Author Archive

Honduras HOPE Brigade

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Missions, Reporting

Honduras HOPE Brigade
by Nirvana Mireles

hope2In January 2014 I had the opportunity to attend a medical brigade with Hope Worldwide in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. I was skeptical about my abilities to help since I don’t have any sort of medical background, but I was ready to be used. Hope provides medical care for our brothers and sisters in San Pedro Sula, and the surrounding communities, free of charge as well as vitamins and medication. While being there I was amazed by the compassionate and giving hearts of the doctors as they attended cases that were extremely difficult and heart breaking at times. The church was so grateful for every single helping hand there was, I was humbled by their appreciation. I saw people’s hearts move and change in the course of four days, including my own. I’ve never felt so grateful for our church family and for the blessings God has given me. It was an incredible experience seeing first hand how donations are being used across the world to help change people’s lives. The brigade isn’t solely focused on meeting medical needs but also on encouraging and strengthening our brothers and sisters in Christ. I think this was the most rewarding part of it all, not just serving those in need but being able to serve our spiritual family in the midst of their hardships.

Time in India

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Missions, Reporting

My Time in India
by Jiah Park

Park 1Over winter break of 2013, I was able to take part in Hope Youth Corps at a place I’ve only read about or seen on television, Chennai India. Hope Youth Corps participants, consisting of 120 brothers and sisters from all over the world, served at the Hope School for children of tsunami survivors, an AIDS home for orphans and women, and a leprosy colony. It was my first time serving in a developing part of the world, and it was an eye opening time stepping out of my bubble into a world of isolation and poverty.

Park 2Our first stop was the Hope School. The volunteers and I took part in building benches, planting trees, painting murals, and more for the school. We went to the school until Christmas Eve, which then we hosted a Christmas carnival for the children. The children were so bright and joyful that it was such an enjoyable time for us to be at the school. However, perhaps because of the children’s joyous exuberance or because of my oblivion, I did not realize the extent of poverty these kids lived in. Many of the children that attend the school live in houses made of dirt and large leaves. These make shift structures as big as a small bedroom, housed whole families. Although I personally did not get to go, many participants were also able to visit the children’s houses. To my surprise, they explained that the children and parents were not only happy to have the participants come over to their abode, but were very proud of the handmade houses. In fact, one family urged the participants to take pictures as they beamed with pride in showing off their dwellings. With this story, I felt so convicted and reflected in my gratitude for what God has given me. What does it take for me to be happy and content?

Best Christmas Play Ever!

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Announcements

Best Christmas Play Ever!

IMG_6477Please come watch the play!!! Your heart will be moved!! It is amazing! They have invested alot of time into making it great.

Saturday Night, December 14
Church Service at 5pm
Play at 6:30pm

Sunday Morning, December 15
Church Service at 10 AM
Play at 2 PM

“The Best Christmas Play Ever” is the funny and heartwarming story of the Herdmans, the meanest, most vile kids on the planet who bully their way into the local church Christmas play and learn about the story of Jesus’s birth for the very first time. Everyone thinks the play is destined to be a disaster, and some, in fact, will do whatever is necessary to prevent the performance from happening, but there’s more to the infamous Herdmans than meets the eye. Their fresh take ends up being an important reminder for both adults and children that the story of Christ’s coming is not to be seen as bland and uninteresting, but rather miraculous and wonderful!

Youth and Family Conference Report

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Reporting

Youth and Family Conference Report

YFConferenceThe New York City Church of Christ hosted “A City On A Hill,” the 2013 International Conference for Youth & Family Ministry (ICYFM). It was September 13-14 in Brooklyn, New York. The Conference was followed by an inspirational Worship Service on Sunday, September 15, entitled “Light of the World”. Over 5000 people came together to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the NYC Church of Christ.
If you would like to listen to some of the lessons on-line, please click this link: ICYFM Messages

It was a great time of teaching about how to help our youth be connected to Christ and to their families. I’m so grateful for the lessons we can learn – especially when they are shared from the perspective experience. I know I make so many mistakes as a mom, it is encouraging to hear children share about the things their parents did that helped them fall in love with God (a big part being able to see their parents model the behavior of making mistakes, being humble and apologizing).

Guatemala Trip

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Missions, Reporting

Guatemala Trip

Guatemala1

(Note: this article was written by Sonya Leddy.  She was a part of the HOPE Brigade in Guatemala this summer. She shares about her experience in this blog post.)

My experience in Guatemala this summer exemplified the words “It is far better to give than to receive.” It was set in motion as I joined over 50 volunteers ready to give at this 3-day medical brigade. We quickly joined forces as a team of doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, teachers, students and translators all with one mission – to care for the extreme poor and those in most need. It was evident after the first day of serving that our bodies were exhausted but our hearts were fulfilled & satisfied from the work that was done.

Guatemala2Each day our team assembled with joyful, giving hearts to painstakingly administer medical and dental care, count thousands of multi-vitamins and pain relievers, fill desperately needed prescription medication and entertain the precious children. Hundreds were served daily at no cost, prescription and reading glasses provided free of charge, and three months of multi-vitamins distributed to every man, woman and child seen. Words cannot do justice to the impact and blessing brought to this community from the donations and sacrifices made from the churches across the US. It was truly an inspiring testimony of God’s love for the poor.

Guatemala3The children’s program, in which I served, bubbled with smart & creative kids. They played games, had their faces painted, made bracelets and customized their very own T-shirts. It was a pleasure to watch their faces light up as they proudly embellished their shirts with rhinestones and glitter, or colored their names artistically written in bubble letters. One mom requested that ‘God loves you.’ be written in English on her baby son’s t-shirt. While this mother was grateful for the t-shirt, I was much more grateful for her faith as a mother despite her circumstance.

Guatemala5While countless moments like this moved my heart, as I expected. One moment stood out. During a brief conversation with a brother from the Guatemala church I mentioned how my faith has been challenged in recent years. I experienced the loss of my 4 year-old, son to a tragic accident, and my 35 year-old, sister to an aggressive cancer. He said tenderly, “You were called to have passion for all, not just a few.” Wow!

 

Guatemala6My heart has been humbled and my passion transformed. I have not stopped thinking of Guatemala since I’ve left. My husband says I’ve found my calling. I believe him. When you volunteer with Hope Worldwide your mission is to bring hope and change lives. YOU return with a greater hope and a changed life. It IS, far more better to give than to receive.

 

2013 Youth Camp Report

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Events, Reporting

2013 Youth Camp Report

The following is an article written by Brian Craig about the 2013 LA Youth Camp.  You can find the original article on Disciples Today.

2013 Youth CampThe night sky was filled with thick clouds as Geo Garces began his Wednesday night message. The camp director was preaching about how we can approach God and talk to him about whatever we are going through–even if we are feeling angry, sad, or struggling with doubt. As Geo read from various Psalms, he emphasized how the writers were honest and vulnerable with God about their feelings. And then he began to share personally himself:

“Earlier tonight, I was in that field over there, calling out to God, ‘Lord, don’t you know its Wednesday night? Why all these clouds? Don’t you know we are supposed to have the Starlight Devotional tonight? I know the forecast calls for 90% cloud cover, but please, Abba!'”

He continued, “See kids, God hasn’t answered my prayer yet. But I still need to trust him, even when I doubt, and whether he answers my prayer or not. And God wants us to be honest, vulnerable, and real with him about whatever it is we are going through and how we feel about it.”

It was the third day of the annual LA Youth Camp, and the plan for the night called for the memorable “Starlight Devotional.” That was to be the special night when all the campers would be lead out into a large hidden field on the outskirts of camp where they would lie down in the silence and dark, look up at the stars and meditate. It was to be a night where the campers hearts would open up to God and they would make commitments to him. But with the current cloud cover and the forecast for the next two days, at this point it was doubtful if we would be able to proceed with the event.

This was my fourth year driving up to Idyllwild, to the annual LA Youth Camp. John Mannel and his team began the camp back in 2000 for kids going into 5th-8th grades. Every year it has just seemed to get better and better. This year we had well over 500 campers, lots of amazing counselors, and a full staff. The camp has gotten so large and successful that the decision was made to have two camp weeks next year and split the staff between the two camps. So everyone was in the mindset of learning all they could from each other so we’d be able to not miss a beat with next year’s camps.

2013 Camp 2There is something so amazing about being surrounded by hundreds of kids at this “magical” age as they are discovering who they are and how they fit in to their community. They still have so much of their innocence, and it is awesome to watch their eyes open to God and his word. They are responsive to the influence of their counselors as they are figuring out what to do with the different emotions they experience and relationship issues they go through. It’s coIMG 0743ol to wake up early in the morning and see little gatherings of campers all through the wooded areas and along the creek as their counselors lead them quiet times together. It’s the perfect time in life to teach them to begin to look to God for help in challenging circumstances and for answers to the deep questions of life.

There are so many fun things that happen at camp, with memorable activities and sporting events. The legendary “Water Wars” are a highlight of the week; Geo and the staff talk a lot of “smack” at every assembly leading up to the great battle, so by the time the war comes the kids are a frenzy of excitement to destroy the staff in a deluge of water. But for most of us, our favorite moments are the times of worship at night in the outdoor amphitheater, as the kids scream, shout, dance and sing their hearts out to God till they have no voices left. You can’t help but shed a tear at the sound of their young voices worshipping our Creator.

So, back to Wednesday night in the amphitheater. As Geo got into his final point about going to God when we are happy, praising him for good things and remembering to be grateful, murmurings began in the crowd. “Geo, look up!” someone said. Suddenly, clouds had cleared and the whole sky was full of stars. Geo told the campers to look up and to praise God for parting the clouds for the Starlight Devotional. The crowd erupted in cheer that God had heard our prayers. It was just one of those moments when God winks at you, when he reminds you of how amazing it is to belong to him. I felt a sense of awe and gratitude in my heart for this wonderful camp. And I was filled with the expectation that these young campers were on the right track towards one day devoting their whole lives to our awesome Creator.