There is a rescued little girl, in a safe home in the ghetto, that faithfully prays the same prayer every night. She sees that their shack is overcrowded - thirteen girls and only ten beds - and has been told all about this new land that is spacious and safe. With cabins and beds for all, and plenty of room to grow. A fenced acreage of fertile land, they can run safely for acres and enjoy the abundant fruit trees.
This sweet little girl prays, with hopeful eyes and an expectant heart, that one day she’ll get to climb those trees and enjoy the fruit. She prays that one day the land will be theirs.
Hope Aglow is an anti-trafficking nonprofit organization that supports these children at Nueva Esperanza (New Hope Girls) in the Dominican Republic. Our team visited them on a Vision Trip last fall, and built bunk beds at their safe home for girls. After we left, they welcomed even more girls in and they currently have thirteen girls living at the home and only ten beds. They also have an onsite school and open up their place during the day to educate girls who are at-risk/rescued from trafficking. They teach these 32 girls, disciple them, equip them and pray with them.
New Hope Girls has outgrown their place in the ghetto, and greatly desires to continue expanding their reach. A couple years ago, God gave the leaders a vision of land full of mature fruit trees, and space for the girls to run and play in freedom.
“Clear lots of ground for your tent! Make your tents large. Spread Out! Think big! Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep. You're going to need lots of elbow room for your growing family." Isaiah 54
There is an ideal property on the outskirts of town that New Hope Girls’ feels led to fundraise for. It is large and fenced with cabins, clean water and hundreds of mature fruit trees. Hope Aglow is supporting them by raising funds for the purchase of this acreage- which was once used as a Baptist Church Camp. We stand by them and pray that their vision and hope will be realized. We are praying for the day they will have the property, housing and resources to be able to facilitate the rescue and rehabilitation of more girls.
Hope Aglow held a large garage sale fundraiser for them at Summerland Baptist Church on September 13th and it was a success! It was a beautiful, sunny morning and there were so many donations that poured in the week prior - there was something at the sale for everyone. Hundreds of people from the community and local churches came to shop, donate and enjoy goodies & coffee from the bake sale.
We are thrilled and thankful to God that together we raised $2,560.60 to go towards the purchase of the land. What a blessing!
A huge thank you to the Summerland Baptist family for opening your arms wide in love and support for this cause. Thank you to everyone who volunteered, donated, baked and shopped! We are so grateful.
If you are interested in learning more about New Hope’s vision, visit here: newhopegirlsacademy.org
Teresa Braam and the Hope Aglow team
“Clarifying vision is about looking to the past as much as to the future... Clarifying vision is always about what God is already doing.” Church Unique by Will Mancini, page 53.
God has been empowering and blessing our SBC Children and Families ministry. What a joy it is to have so many children and youth a part of our church family. It is a privilege to help their families teach them about the love of Jesus. And yet there are many more children in our communities who need to hear about the love and grace of Jesus.
The vision of Summerland Baptist Church paints a picture of where we want to go. It is a snapshot of God’s better intermediate future. (Our ultimate future is in heaven with Him.) It is a panoramic view from the mountaintop of what is possible because of the love, hope and grace of Jesus. The current reality is not a pretty one. Ours is a challenging culture in which to raise a family. It is a tough time to be a family. While some relationships are strong and thriving, many could use some help, and others, frankly, are broken. Our vision is clearly focused on children and families. We will not stop ministering to seniors or singles or any other demographic the Lord entrusts to us. We will, however, invite everyone to join us as we address one of the greatest needs of this time: marriage and family.
Like a painting, the vision itself is set within a picture frame. For those who would like more detail and background information, you can check the links to the four sides of the frame. They are explained briefly below.
At the top of the frame is Mission. This answers the question What, as in What should our church be doing? In Matthew 28: 19 – 20, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is what all churches, everywhere, throughout time should be doing. Our Mission is a restatement of the great commission for our unique church, in this place and at this time. Following Jesus Together: Reaching, Restoring and Deepening. Why restoring in place of risking? It is certainly not because our church will stop risking, but risking is a strategy (not what we will do but how). We see the great need for restoring and know that only God can truly restore broken relationships.
On the right-hand side of the frame is Missional Values, the answer to: Why do we do what we do? What motivates us? This is our common heartbeat; these are the shared values of our congregation: Relationships, Serving, Prayer, Everyday Faith and Scripture.
Missional Strategy is at the bottom of the frame. How is the church going to attain its vision? Someone outside the church could connect with SBC through any of the four components: Reach, Worship, Serve, Grow. Ideally, each person at SBC would eventually be involved in all four.
Finally, the left side of the frame, Life Measures, provides a way of evaluating the progress of the church towards its vision. When do we know we are successful? Different from what is often measured: attendance, size of the building, size of the budget, these are evidences in the life of an individual believer.
The vision that we feel God has given our church family is a journey, an emphasis and a direction. Our journey is to continue to follow Jesus. The emphasis will be his love, grace and healing. The direction is to focus our gifts and energies on the pressing needs of families, marriages and parenting so his love, grace and healing are experienced.
FIRE by Justin Wiebe
Look around you.
Can you see it? Do you hear it?
Open up your ears and listen. It roars to make us fear it.
Do you smell that? That’s the stink of souls going up in smoke
And yet this world dawdles as though this fire is just a joke.
It burns, igniting marriages, oh the hurt and grief it brings,
Transforming vital, passionate people into sleepless, broken things.
It consumes with indifference, unfaithfulness, and shattered trust.
We turn down the feast before us and nibble on just the crust.
It devours. Sacred sex, as though dipped in kerosene,
Goes up in a burst of heat leaving nothing but the obscene
Twisted and perverted version of the truth
And the flames are fuelled further by passing our habits to our youth.
It’s taking homes. Breaking bonds between father, daughter, mother, son
So rapidly it seems the only option is to run
Headlong into bitter confusion without love and form of hope.
Where can you turn after being burned? You simply learn to cope….
But there’s a different fire present here.
It’s strong and hot and bright.
This flame fights for goodness and everything that’s right.
Like a torch that boasts everlasting fuel, it won’t be put to rest
For God himself is the One who lit this ember in our chest.
This is where the battle is, this is where it starts;
Shoulder to shoulder against the destroyer with this backburn in our hearts.
His might is as an earthquake. His love a sea too vast to sail
And though we know we’re prone to falter,
He will never fail! We are His fireline standing against the heat of the human condition
So as Christ’s body this is Summerland Baptist church’s vision:
Our world has been scorched by the fires of failed relationships. The unfailing love and grace of Jesus can heal the brokenness and restore families. We believe that one day people will experience healthy, God-honouring sexuality, marriage and family life within our valley and beyond. We foresee the divorce rate declining, marriages thriving, and parents as the spiritual champions of their homes, leading children to know Jesus and His teachings. We will follow Jesus, extend His love and grace and invite everyone to experience this life.
For a more indepth look at our vision, please click here for the complete framework.
Do you have questions regarding our vision? Please click here for our SBC Vision: Questions & Answers.
We will be having a congregational meeting on Monday, October 20 at 7 pm in the SBC gym. Please join us for this informational meeting about the growing demands for space in our church building, and some options that are being considered that will help us to carry out our vision here at SBC.
So many good times captured on camera... we wanted to share some of them with you! (Be sure to scroll all the way to the end for an awesome video.)
Thanks, Erna and Jack for sharing your photos with us!
Thanks to Steven Cogbill for creating this amazing video!
SBC hosted its first Family Camp at Green Bay Bible Camp in West Kelowna five years ago (Back when it was called Westbank!) and we've attended as a family every year. Matthew is the Director of Children and Families, so it is a work weekend for him, but we do get to see him when he's not "on", and the kids look forward to Family Camp weeks before it actually happens. This, despite sleeping on bunks made of plywood and mattresses a half-inch thick. Oh, to be young and full of wonder (and bones not prone to aching).
The basic structure of Family Camp has been the same since its inception: Arrive after dinner, get your envelope of instructions, your lanyards with your name on them, and your lodge/cabin/campsite assignment. There is breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, and you're free to go at 1:00 on Sunday. There are campfires on Friday and Saturday night, with songs for the little kids and us big kids. There are planned activities, and increasingly over the past five years, less planned activities and more "free time."
The first year was pretty structured, because that's what we do at church. We plan and we get organized and we lay out a schedule. After the first year at Family Camp, it became apparent that while this was still our church family, it was not regular church. Sunday mornings (and every other day, really) are so busy and hurried and scheduled, that those who came to Family Camp wanted less scheduling. They wanted more family time (Church family time, for the most part), and less time being sheep led to the slaughter planned activities.
The planned activities eased back, which allowed for more time to sit for an hour after breakfast drinking coffee with friends and getting caught up on life. It allowed for time to sit on the beach after lunch, talking some more, while watching our kids jump off of the docks and being pulled on tubes behind boats, and paddle boarding around the inner harbour. It allowed time for morning walks (And runs!) with friends, for sitting after dinner to talk even more, and for our husbands to play pranks on each other.
The biggest change this year was to not hire an outside speaker, but to instead focus on sharing our stories. Stories are so powerful, and they form an instant connection with those who hear them. They may think "me too" or "I had no idea" or "How can I help you?" I am a story teller, and I am someone who hears better when someone tells a story than when someone shares knowledge.
Three people told their stories in front of our church family over the weekend, and I got more out of those stories than I would out of a year of sermons. I heard even more stories while sipping coffee after a meal, and sitting on the beach, and running along the waterfront. Stories come from the heart, and all of the stories I heard this weekend filled my heart to the brim.
(This is where I confess that I didn't want to go to Family Camp because of all that is going on in our lives, but going to Family Camp is exactly what I -- we -- needed.)
Here's to Family Camp 2015!
Photo credit: Angella Dykstra