"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Saturday, February 6, 2016

An Unlikely Missionary


In September, 2015, I was privileged to be part of a Lay Witness Weekend at a church about 200 miles from my home. Lay people from other churches volunteered to be part of a team of witnesses who spent the weekend sharing their faith stories with the host church’s members in various settings. The article below came out a few weeks ago telling about one ministry that sprung from the weekend. I’m thrilled that I was able to be a part of this amazing work of God in the Rocky Mount, NC, Community.

An Unlikely Missionary
January 12, 2016

FUMC Rocky Mount has hosted a “Monday Morning Community Breakfast” for the past five years. Every Monday at 7 a.m. homeless people, housing-challenged individuals, working poor, and members from FUMC gather for a hot breakfast, fellowship and devotion. We sing, pray, share, listen, and experience God’s presence. Over the past year, one particular church member has been very intentional about bringing her six-year-old daughter, Annie, to sit and interact with those gathered.

In September of this year, FUMC had a “Discipleship Weekend” that focused on what it looks like to become an apprentice of Jesus Christ—someone imitating the ways of the Master. To our surprise and delight, a dozen individuals who normally only come to the Monday Morning Community Breakfast came to this retreat. At the closing lunch on Sunday, several of them were sitting together at a table. But they weren’t the only ones at that table for six. There, sitting by herself with them, was six-year-old Annie. Across from her sat Tom, a middle aged-man with a long, white beard. Beside her sat Debra, an African American grandmother and her granddaughter. Across the table diagonally sat Richard, who had just come out of the homeless shelter, and Bob, dressed in jeans with holes in the knees. There was no sense of insecurity, no look of discomfort on her face—just joy. Annie sat there at that table like it was the most natural thing in the world–making conversation and smiling at her friends as they all ate together. It was one of those “Kingdom moments”—the kind I imagine brings a smile to God’s face. This was just the beginning.
The Kitchen Crew of

First United Methodist Church, Rocky Mount, NC

A few days later, I received an email from Annie’s mother. It said that later Annie had asked her if they could let some of her new friends stay at their house where they “could be warm during the winter. “After some back and forth conversation in which her mother had to explain to a perplexed six-year-old why they couldn’t have everyone live with them, Annie decided that she could help by collecting warm blankets, jackets, and socks. Annie then shared her idea with her elementary school teacher. The elementary school teacher was so moved that she invited the whole class to be involved. In the teacher’s lounge, that teacher shared what her class was doing. The principal was so moved that the whole school decided to participate in the drive. “Can we set up a bin in the church to collect?” the email concluded. How incredible! From a six year old sitting at a table making friends…to a classroom…to an entire school and church!

It is amazing what God can bring into being from just having the courage to develop relationships with people—especially with those different from you. Part of what drives a missional community and a missional church is the persistent effort to develop relationships with people. It sounds simple and obvious, but relationships lead to new and relevant ideas. We often try forcibly to manufacture an idea and hope that it leads to relationships, growth, or a desired outcome. (“If we build it, they will come.”). Instead, they can miss the mark because they are not grounded in the reality of the neighborhood or the community they are supposed to influence. Annie’s story reminds me that it often works better the other way around. We are, after all, a sent people. When we first develop relationships with people with nothing more than an agenda of just getting to know them and befriend them, God uses those developing relationships as a kind of fertile ground to grow ideas and vision. Who knows where this blanket and sock drive will lead next? It has certainly united a church and a school around a particular mission. What if more churches operated on a large scale like Annie did? What missional ideas and visions might sprout from the fertile ground of relationships?

Author, Tyler Williams is the associate at FUMC: Rocky Mount. He is a participant in the New Faith Community’s AXIS Learning Community for Spiritual Entrepreneurs.

Going out with a heart full of joy today,

Cathy

Saturday, January 23, 2016

O, Come, All Ye Faithful



Welcome to my Joyful Journey, 2016!


I know, I’m a little late with my greeting, but the new year slipped right on in, whether I was ready for it or not.

Shortly before the end of the year, when people were thinking about the new year looming ahead and making a list of resolutions, I got my instructions for marching ahead into 2016. Lots of times if God wants to speak to me, He’ll do it through a song. That day, I heard the Christmas carol, O Come All Ye Faithful, playing on the radio while I was driving toward town and the day’s errands. Here’s what I heard as the choir sang:


O, come, All Ye Faithful,

          Do you hear my call, my yearning to have you spend time with Me? Can I call you faithful? Will you come?


Joyful and triumphant!

          I have given you everything you need to approach life joyfully and triumphantly? Do you? My son’s death on the cross allows you to live life from a position of victory.


O, come, ye, oh, come ye to Bethlehem;

          The little town of Bethlehem was known in scripture as the House of Bread. Are you hungry, thirsty, lacking anything? Come to Me and I will supply all your needs. Stop your weeping, receive My blessing, anointing, refreshment, salvation.                  


Come and behold Him, Born the king of angels;

          Will you recognize My authority and worship Me?


O, come, let us adore him,

O, come, let us adore him,

O, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

          This is worth repeating. When you focus your adoration on Me, everything about you is changed: your vision, your mind, your actions, your habits, your time.

Come, Faithful One, spend the year with Me. I will supply everything you need.



What about you, His faithful One? Will you scratch and dig yourself through another year or will you allow Him to change you into all He wants you to be?

He wants to spend time with us. He wants to provide all of our needs out of His great bounty. He wants to meet us in worship and adoration. And, yes, that adoration is mutual. He loves us.

You, O faithful One, are His favorite child! He is your best cheerleader.

Going out with joy today! I hope you are, too.

Cathy







O, Come, All Ye Faithful Copyright
Text: Attributed to John F. Wade c. 1711-1786; tr. Composite
Tune: Attributed to John F. Wade c. 1711-1786;

Monday, August 10, 2015

Joyful Journey: On Mission in Canada - Part Two

Joyful Journey: On Mission in Canada - Part Two:   Read these stories of persecuted Christian brother and sisters I met in Canada.

On Mission in Canada - Part Two

 

While on mission in Canada last month I met Christian brothers and sisters who had been persecuted in their home countries. Rather than being driven to fear and silence, their trials served to make them more boisterous about their faith. They eagerly tell about God’s love and faithfulness during their darkest days. They express their thankfulness for the way the Holy Spirit comforts them and guides their paths. They sing praises to Jesus for all that He does for them daily and they share their stories readily with anyone who will listen.

Ninety-four year old Arthur laments the fact that he can’t share Jesus the way he did when he was younger. His recent heart trouble has forced him to slow down but he is still on fire for Jesus and wants the world to hear about his Savior. He gets up early in the morning and goes to a neighborhood right after the morning newspapers have been delivered. He gathers the papers up, puts a tract about Jesus in each one, and then redistributes the papers to their rightful owners. He includes his name and number so they can call him if they want further information. Some
days he sits at a bus stop and waits for someone to sit down next to him. He begins a conversation with them and soon is telling them about Jesus. If no one comes to sit beside him, he leaves a Gospel of John in the predominant language of the neighborhood laying there in a plastic bag. Again, he includes his name and number so they can contact him.

Mussaret acted as an interpreter for one of our teams as they went door-to-door in one community giving out Bibles and Jesus DVDs in the homeowner’s language. Between houses, she shared her testimony and told stories about her past. She quickly jumped in as needed to share Jesus with homeowners who couldn’t speak English. Mussaret and Anwar opened their home to the team on Thursday evening for a meal. They are members at LEAF Canada, the church we partnered with while we were there. The buffet meal prepared by Mussaret was scrumptious, a real feast of Pakistani delights. After the meal there was a spirited recounting of the day’s blessings followed by prayer. Anwar closed out our prayer time with a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing that left many of us in tears.

Richard grew up unable to read. One night he went to a healing service seeking help for a wounded leg. A lady there prophesied over him telling him that he would go to the nations. He passed it off as nonsense; after all, how could a man who couldn’t read take the Gospel to the nations? Later in the evening when he went forward for prayer, he was told that God would come to him if he wanted Him to. He went home and prayed for three days for God to come to him. God showed up and asked him what He could do for him. Surprised, and unprepared for the meeting, Richard replied, “Maybe teach me to read.” Richard now speaks five languages and travels with his car trunk loaded with Bibles in many languages. He is always at the ready to share Jesus and God’s Word.

We all have a story to tell. What is your faith story? Please share it with me in the comments section.

Going out with joy today-

Cathy

Thursday, July 23, 2015

On Mission in Canada - Part One


Charlotte Airport - Day One
Melba, Debra, Angie, Cathy, Karen, Paula and Sam
I had the privilege last week of going on a mission trip to Brampton, Ontario, Canada, with Hands on Missions in Shelby, NC. We partnered with a pastor and his church there to minister to the largely Hindu, Muslim and Sikh population. What I learned about being a witnessing Christian from the members of the church, most of them there due to persecution for their faith, has forever changed my perspective on evangelism.


Pastor Robin Wasti and wife, Neena
The Pastor, Robin Wasti, was the director of Campus Crusade for Christ in Pakistan. He started receiving letters threatening his life if he didn’t stop his work there. When his car was shot up he took the threat to his life and the lives of his family seriously. Because of his travel with CCC, he had a visa to the United States and one to Canada. He tried to come to the USA but the details didn’t work out. He had a cousin living in Canada so he moved there, leaving his wife and three children living underground in Pakistan until he could make arrangements to move them. They were separated for almost four years before they were reunited in Canada in May, 2014.

 In the meantime, Pastor Robin was working hard, sharing his faith with anyone who would listen. Some divine appointments in the workplace allowed him to find a basement apartment to live in and he started a house church there with the help of April and Jeffrey Langley, missionaries with the International Mission Board. God blessed Robin with understanding homeowners who allowed the church to use some of their rooms upstairs so they could break out into separate groups for Sunday School.


Some of the children at
Bottomwood Park last week
When Robin and his family were reunited last year and they could minister together, things started popping. The church is growing and they are now having services in a Chinese Baptist Church on Sunday afternoons and evenings. In July of last year, they held their first Kid’s Club in a local park. Every community has a park where families with children gather from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. each night during the summer months. A group from Hands on Missions came to help with the first Kid’s Clubs. Each member of the team set up a station where they witnessed to the children about Jesus in various ways through stories, games and prizes. They also played large group games in the center of the parks, performed skits of Bible stories like The Good Samaritan and gave away candy, juice, Bibles and Jesus DVDs in their own languages. Witnessing was going on all around the edges of the parks where the men and women of the community had gathered for their nightly visit. Nearly 300 children heard about Jesus last year through the Hands on Missions teams. Two other teams came after this one and repeated the fun in six other parks.


"I got Kid's Club!"
Last week, all of this was repeated in three parks, but this year over 400 children heard the Good News, along with their parents and others visiting the park. I was amazed at how attentive the children were, sitting quietly, wide-eyed, hardly moving a muscle as I told them about the gift that God gave us through Jesus and how to open and claim that gift for  themselves. Some remembered the Kid’s Clubs from last year and were excited that the team had come back. As I sat in the park one morning making posters to advertise the next night’s event while others went door-to-door inviting families to come, several children came up and asked if they could have an invitation. Four of them danced around holding up their cards saying, “I got Kid’s Club, I got Kid’s Club.”

I kept asking myself while I was there if I would be as exuberant about sharing the Gospel if I had been shot at, persecuted, and separated from my family. Most of my witnessing in my everyday life at home is done silently, being a good example. Occasionally I will take the opportunity to use words. The believers I met on mission in Canada know the cost of following and witnessing about Christ – and do it anyway.

“God help me be more like them. Amen.”

Going out with joy today-

Cathy