Monday, December 7, 2015

From a Grateful Fellow Pastor

This is a season of Thanksgiving, and my heart is full of abundant joy because of you, pastor.

Most people in your congregation will never really know that depths of longing you have for each one to draw nearer still to Jesus, how you have wept in prayer over the suffering and sometimes confusion of your members, the too many times you were required to miss meals and special moments with your family because you tended to the crises and needs of your flock.  Few will understand the decisions you have made to take less in order to serve more, to give sacrificially not only to set an example but because you love God and care for those suffering in the world.  You have chosen a simple lifestyle to honor the King who had no place to lay his head so that the gospel may be proclaimed without hindrance.

I know that this Thanksgiving there are lonely elderly in your community who will have companionship, confused teens who will know they are loved, hungry men who will have a meal, homeless women who will not be on the street, stressed marriages that will find points of agreeable joy, refugees and immigrants who will find friends in a hostile world – BECAUSE OF YOU and how you have led.

And only God truly knows, but I am sure the number is larger than you suspect, all of the people who have crossed from death to eternal life and will join you in angel song before the throne of the King of Kings when the mortal coil is shed - because of your witness and ministry.

This world is a better place because you said yes to Jesus Christ, and to the divine call to shepherd or prophesy or teach or evangelize or break new ground in a hard community – or all of this.  
I am so thankful for you. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Refugee Jesus, A Christmas Story

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt… for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:13

Mary and Joseph fled nearly certain death in Bethlehem for the insecurity of Egypt and a chance to live. How long did young Jesus and his refugee parents live in Africa? Tatian puts a seven year span on the event, Baronius says eight, Athanasius thought four and Josephus believed it to be one year. There are plenty of ancient, apocryphal tales of young Jesus in Egypt, celebrated yet today by the Egyptian Coptic believers.

No one knows how long Jesus was a refugee before being gathered by Joseph, daring to return to obscure Nazareth. No one really knows what Christ’s earthly parents or even young Jesus himself did while separated from family, friends, occupation and home. We simply know that core to the Christmas story is the bleak and bloody tale of terror, shed blood, and fleeing with the hope of life and little but the promise of God.

Was Joseph hungry and harassed? Mary afraid? Did her baby cry? Most refugees are hungry, afraid, harassed and weep over deep losses.  

From the depths of this agonizing portion of the Christmas tale emerges a carpenter’s son whose entire life and legacy can be summarized by the action verb -- LOVE. Pressed by terror the diamond of hope emerged. Surrounded by death, the Prince of Peace smashed the mortal coil and prepared the path toward eternal life. The tragedy ends well. But the story continues to be written anew today.

I imagine Christ, at the side of His Father in heaven, is heartbroken over the weeping, harassed, hungry streams of refugees that flee from today’s Herods and seek some help from today’s wise men and hope for some place to lay their heads in today’s Egypts. What a wonderful Christmas gift it would be if Christ’s people, children of the Refugee King, might supply the warmth of prayers, assistance of financial support, and not without applying the wisdom of security, nonetheless offer a place for the least of these to lay their weary heads.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pastors Love. Love Pastors.

Pastors love.

That is all that really explains their existence, perhaps at any time, but certainly in the modern world. Pastors proclaim a message of hope in the resurrected Jesus and an eternal truth discovered in an ancient text and through hearing from the Holy Spirit. This pastor’s message is often mocked, this text is often viewed as a relic, and being thought of as eccentric at best or pathological at worse if she actually admits to hearing from God. Because there are too many pastors who have not lived according to the profession of their faith, creating dark news sensations, a shadow has been cast upon all who seek to servant-lead congregations and merit in the general public a trustworthiness rating below that of used-car-salesmen.

Nationally, only teachers and pastors are paid less for their level of education and training as professionals. The average teacher with a bachelor’s degree earns about $42,000; the average pastor with a bachelor’s degree earns $28,000. Most pastors have expensive Master’s Degrees, with extensive training in languages, theology, counseling, administration, communications, community development and leadership. At least one of five pastors must work an additional job outside of the church in order to support their family. In the NCC, over 60% of our lead pastors are bi-vocational (including 3 Assistant Superintendents). The stress this places on a family over time – working between two jobs often 70 hours per week with very few days off despite the biblical admonition to Sabbath – takes a toll. Pastors are rarely compensated adequately and find it difficult to provide the basics for their families, including health care.

Guaranteed: your pastor does what she does out of deep commitment to a call from God and an abiding love for you and the community of service.

Love your pastor. The reason they are with you is love for God and you.

Keep your eye on the NCC Facebook page (fb/nccfmc) for daily reminders of ways you can show appreciation to your pastor during October – Pastor Appreciation Month.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

General Conference Update

The Spirit of Christ spoke to and through the Free Methodist Church at General Conference 2015. Organized around nine priorities which in fact flowed from the work of the Holy Spirit through the church at GC2011. At least one of your NCC elected delegates participated in being resourced and contributing to each of the nine FMC priorities. These priorities are:

Embrace All ● Disciple Deeply ● Cultivate Health
Develop Leaders ● Multiply Ministries ● Honor Fruitfulness
Engage Urban ● Partner Strong ● Go Global

Your delegates (pictured) say….

General Conference was a wonderful time of inspiration – through worship music, messages from our bishops and leaders, strategic priorities training, fellowship with 2,000 of our Free Methodist family from across the nation and around the world, and the confirmation of our denominational stand on the Biblical definition of marriage. I came away from the conference being spiritually renewed and refreshed, and have returned to the Fillmore Church with a greater passion to multiply the church through making disciples for Christ. (Mike Hopper)

I was so moved when Bishop Roller said, “Love your neighbor as yourself… I would just be glad if we would love our neighbor as much as we love our pets." Likewise, I resonated with Bishop Thomas when he referenced how all through the Old Testament God is the maker. Then Jesus invites us to be a partner with him as we "make" disciples. What a privilege, honor and responsibility we have to share in God’s work of re-creation. (Shawn Morrison)

I was impacted by the general feeling of action that transpired through every activity, more than ruling and dictating, a strong spirit of support and partnership with very defined strategies is what I got from GC15. (Alma Jasinksi)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Walk the Discipleship Circle

Walking the Discipleship Circle

The gathered delegates, pastors and attenders of the North Central Conference Annual Conference 2015 made a radical commitment. 

We all committed to weekly and intentionally “Walk the Discipleship Circle” with at least one other person. The Discipleship Circle is a simple way of living out daily devotion to Jesus and grow as His followers. 

We will encourage each other to daily BE with God, in His holy and loving presence through intentional prayer and searching the Scriptures.  Consequently, we have faith that as we spend more time with our Lord we will SEE more clearly his will for our lives – how to treat others, how to bless our communities, how to treat ourselves, how to bless the church, how to honor God. We believe that in so being with Christ and seeing the Spirit’s direction, with community encouragement and spiritual empowerment, we can actually do what God desires. Jesus said, “Those who love me, obey me” (John 14:23, 24, & Ps.119:167, 1Peter.1:22, 1John.2:5, etc.). 

As a conference, we have identified together a startling definition of “disciple.” 

A disciple is a radical follower of Jesus living out self-sacrificial love for God and others, and helping others do the same.

Radical means at the root, an event or change that affects the fundamental nature of something, thorough and comprehensive. The concept of being a radical follower of Jesus flows directly from a principle distinctive of the Free Methodist Movement – entire sanctification. Entire sanctification is simply the hope, possibility and reality that God can and does answer the scriptural prayer (1Thessalonians 5:23) “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through” and that as a gift of the Holy Spirit, nurtured through our being, seeing and doing, we really can “Love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves.” 

It’s radical – not complicated. With whom are you going to walk the discipleship circle?    

Call to PRAY

The clarion call from the Spirit to the superintendent over the past few years has been PRAY.  We seek to fulfill the Great Commission and be a Great Commandment people.  We develop plans regularly to win souls and build projects and impact our communities.  And sometimes we pray.  Usually we pray.  But rarely without ceasing, and often not as a first order priority.  The primal spiritual act is communion with God, conversation with our maker, even as in the garden Adam is not seen writing laws or laying out strategic gardening plans, but rather conversing with God.  The act of willful transgression against the Creator warped the relationship so that clear conversational communion no longer defined the human-divine interaction.  But that is brokenness, not optimal existence. Christ came to reverse the curse and through the Spirit with us, above us and in us, we have amazing open access to our Abba once again. 

In my annual dialogues with pastors I have found that almost half of us do not pray daily in much more than a perfunctory fashion.  Seasons of fasting and seeking after God’s face for our souls, the souls of others and the spirit-led direction of our churches is the exception, not the rule. We are, many say, too busy to pray. Fasting, say others, is just not “my thing.”  Yet God has called us into a synergistic relationship with Him so that we can accomplish more together than alone. God, in Divine wisdom has chosen to accomplish His work on earth through the spirit-led hands and feet of human beings called into relationship with Him.  There is no other way revealed in Scripture. 

We must pray. Pray first. Pray together. Pray daily. Praise God for abundant and manifold blessings – even those which arise through suffering.  Repent of lackadaisical attitudes, outright sins of commission, silence toward injustices in our midst and sometimes perpetuated by our own attitudes.  Ask in order to receive – spiritual power, provision for ministry, clarity of direction, miracles of healing and empowered gifting from on high.  Yield to the promptings of the Spirit either made clear in Scripture, through the counsel of Spirit-led partners and even (WE PRAY!) through the direct witness of the Spirit to our innermost selves.

We will reverse no bad trend and build on sinking sand if we are not a praying people.  As a praying people, there is no obstacle too large for God and fruitful power shall descend upon us.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Walking Dead Easter Story

A story to make sense of a strange Bible passage.
April 4, 2015
Mark Adams

Matthew 27:51-53
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

pictured - Luca Signorelli "Resurrection of the Flesh" 1502


My name is Matthias.  I just want to tell you the strangest, most wonderful story.  Most people don’t seem to believe me, but I swear it’s true.  I would swear on my grandmother’s grave, but as you’ll soon see that’s just not possible anymore.

My– my grandmother’s name was Anna. She was daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  Few people remember Anna. I used to think she was a crazy old bat when I was younger.  When grandpa died, she started spending all her time in the temple courts and synagogues -- praying, fasting, crying out for the salvation of our people.  Crying out for the salvation of her children, and even me, her little grandson Matthias.  She called me her little man.  “My little man,” she would kind of cackle.  I was actually afraid of her, she was pretty intense, and wrinkly.

When I was 20, this was almost 30 years ago now, she grabbed me by both of my arms and stared straight into my eyes, and with a lucid clarity I had not seen in her for years, told me that had seen the Messiah.  She said a young family presented their first baby boy in the temple for his circumcision ceremony.  She said, “Matthias, God has fulfilled his promise to our people, I saw redemption in the eyes of a baby boy today. His name is Jesus.  I know this like I have never known anything before in my life, my little man! When he comes to his own, you must follow him.  You must follow him, my little man.”

I was shaken at the time. There are a lot boys named Jesus, probably 10 a day are circumcised in the temple.  And about 10 years ago, my grandma Anna died.  No amazing “Jesus messiah” on the horizon.  But lately, over the past few years there have been troubling rumors surrounding a Galilean – yes, you heard me, a Galilean – backwoods pond scum – named, yeah, you guessed it, Jesus.
He recently came to Jerusalem and all hell broke loose. He was crucified.  And then things got really strange.

I mean, things are always a bit strange at Passover time in Jerusalem. It’s crazy with thousands visiting the city for the holidays.  But this was unusually unsettling.  Most of the craziness seemed to center around this Jesus fellow.  I admit, many of my friends had become his followers. From what they said he didn’t sound like a bad guy at all.  It made me think about crazy grandma Anna.  I heard the rumors, blind seeing, cripples jumping up, even stories about resurrections, a prominent citizen named Lazarus, who died just outside the city in Bethany, was supposedly raised to life from the dead.  My Jesus following friends believed sincerely he was the messiah, and said he talked a lot about accepting the poor, and forgiving sins, and how we ought to learn to love each other – and even love Romans. That’s a bit over the top!

I almost went to one of the temple court sessions where Jesus was going to preach but my synagogue elders said his teachings were dangerous and contrary to the laws of Moses.  So, I thought it best not to.  And then, when Jesus was arrested, I figured two things. First, my rabbis were spot on. And second, on the off chance they were not, maybe my grandma Anna was right about a boy named Jesus who would become a Messiah.

After all, if Jesus were the Messiah, he would break free from jail, his followers would rise in insurrection and God and His angels would surely begin the reign of the Kingdom of David from Jerusalem again!  That would be something! But when I heard the crowds shout “crucify him” it seemed clear no messiah was around.  No thunder, no white horses from heaven, no Elijah calling down fire on the soldiers.  Ha! Just another crank would be prophet claiming to be our leader.  My grandma was crazy, my friends too. I was glad I never jumped onto the Jesus bandwagon!

When the earthquake shook Jerusalem, I was, needless to say, startled.  We don’t get many around here.  One of my Jesus freak friends said that the earthquake happened about the same time Jesus actually died, crucified as he was.  I don’t know.  I hate crucifixions.  I’ve only been to one, when my uncle was executed for just talking against Rome.  I hated watching it.  It was more than horrid.  I had to be there, though, for Uncle Saul.  I can’t imagine it brought him any comfort.  He may have felt shame knowing that I was there watching his degradation, but I hope knew I was there because I loved him.  There is no comfort being stripped naked on a cross, hung on the side of the road for all to see, dying a long, slow death for nothing, nothing but a dream  and the damned Roman bloodlust and hunger to remind us we are less than dirt to them.  But my friends who knew about Jesus’ crucifixion said Jesus died quickly, just three hours – if that’s quick – and when he did the sky darkened – probably a sandstorm – and the ground shook something awful.  So I guess we have Jesus to blame for the earthquake (ha!).

We all felt it though.  Like I said, it caused major damage.  But it was the Passover and Sabbath, and except for repairs that would save lives and prevent injury, we could not do work to start inspecting or repairing whatever had been broken.  It was very odd to observe Passover these days.  Even as our families celebrated with our seder, remembering the way God delivered our people from slavery in Egypt, we had mixed emotions.  Every year it seemed to rekindle hope that our current occupation might end.  Mind you, were are not slaves, but the foot of Rome was felt upon our necks every moment of every day, so neither are we a free people.  So, when Jesus died, a possible messiah, a possible new Moses, another who would battle against the powers that be and give us the freedom and self-determination we long for … Well, our Passover meal seemed pretty hollow.  God doesn’t do miracles anymore.  Worse, he allows his chosen people to suffer. And now, to rub salt into our wounds, he brings darkness and broken walls upon our land as we celebrate “deliverance.”  This Passover did not seem like God’s judgement was passing over us in any way at all.  Maybe we should have gutted another sacred lamb and placed its blood on our doorposts!  And if the new Moses – Jesus -- would have commanded it, I imagine many would have.  Especially crazy grandma Anna, bless her crazy soul.

But now here is where things get stranger than strange.  I’m a religious man, I take my faith seriously. But I’m not superstitious. I don’t believe in spirits and mediums, even though some our rabbis sure do. My rabbis have been Sadducees, and I have believed that God works differently now than he had in the past.  Miracles are no more, or very rare.  Our call as Jews is to fight for holiness of life through study and obedience to the Torah, and to fight for justice and freedom of our people from Rome – but fight smart. Not with swords, that’s suicide, but with our minds, with plans, with negotiation, with wisdom and patience.  We take life seriously, because we know there is no life beyond the grave.  When Uncle Saul was crucified for sedition, his life meant something to our cause, but it was certainly the last I would see of him.

That’s what I learned from men like Rabbi Alpheus.  So when Rabbi Alpheus told me about what the high priests saw in the temple after the earthquake, I was shocked. Some of the walls were cracked, easily repaired, no major damage. The temple was built to last forever, after all.  But the high priest came out of the Holy of Holies to inspect the damage and was white as a ghost. He claimed that the temple curtain had been ripped in two, sort of.  The bottom was still connected, it had been torn from top to bottom.  He said it was like the hand of Adonai had ripped the curtain.  It had to be something, because, while I’ve never been permitted to see the veil, the rabbi’s say it is 60 feet tall, 40 feet wide and as thick as a man’s hand -- and a team of horses could not rip it asunder.  Well, my rabbi exaggerates a lot, but he was simply undone about the state of the temple.  He literally did not know what this would mean – the temple veil was meant to keep the holy presence of the Holy One of Israel away from we sinful humanity lest we mere mortals be destroyed, or worse – abandoned by the Lord.  Other friends of mine reported that the damage was so severe that several family tombs had been disturbed, some cracked right open.

All of this is to paint the backdrop for what happened next.  Because let me tell you again, I thought my grandma Anna was crazy.  I assumed my friends who decided to listen to Jesus were following a pipe dream, and just like Rabbi Alpheus said, were going to be disappointed and possible even find themselves crucified.  He sure nailed it with Jesus.  I was no believer.

But I am now.

Don’t judge me.  I know what I’m about to tell you sounds crazy. I’m not given to the supernatural. I’m a stonecutter by trade, I work with my hands but I’m not brain dead or given to fantasies. I’d like to think I’m a practical man. But on Sunday, the third day after Jesus died on the cross, the third day after the land went dark and an earthquake ripped even the temple veil, on Sunday I saw something that changed my life forever.

I saw Anna.  Yes. My grandma Anna.  My crazy old bat grandma Anna.  Who grabbed me 30 years ago and said I needed to look for Jesus when he came into his own.  Not in a dream.  No!  Not a vision, either. And not a ghost. At least I don’t think so. I can’t say for sure.  It was so strange.
It was evening, and my wife and I had just sat down for supper.  I had quite a busy day, being a stonecutter I was called upon for many repairs to damage throughout the neighborhood.  There would be work enough to keep us well fed for months.  Then, I heard a knock on the door, and we both got a happy feeling that maybe one of our children had chosen to drop by for the evening.

But it wasn’t the kids.  It was a young woman.

She said, “Hello Matthias, may I come in?”  At first I didn’t recognize the woman, she didn’t look poor or appear to be a beggar, but that’s all I could assume.  Didn’t know how she knew my name. But my wife reminded me that we are not to turn away strangers in need, and quickly ushered her in.
She thanked us, and said she was famished, and had a story to tell.

Sapphira, my wife, quickly set a third plate, poured some wine and welcomed the guest.

Our guest immediately launched into her story.  She asked if we had heard about the events that had taken place over the past few days. “Yes, of course,” we replied.  There was a public execution, horrifically not too uncommon, but one of the so called criminals was a rabbi who didn’t fit into any of our categories – not Pharisee, not Sadducee, not Zealot, not Essene … a young man named Jesus.  And a terrible earthquake hit, and now I’ve got my hands full trying to piece things together.  “Fortunately,” I winked at her, “that means I can afford to have a surprise guest drop by for dinner.”
She smiled, and her smile looked familiar, it stirred a recollection. This young woman went on to tell us about how the law and prophets, the songs of David and wisdom of Solomon all pointed to a day like this.  I stopped her after about an hour, fairly stunned at her knowledge of scripture, and asked how she knew these things.

She laughed, “I’ve had a long life of study, and have served as a prophetess.  Don’t you know me, my little man?  Remember, what I told you?”

Then she reached over and kissed Sapphira and the cheek, thanking her for a kind heart.  She reached for the bread and began to pull the pita from top to bottom.  She said, “This is his body, and as he was torn and bled upon the cross, the veil between life and death, between we broken human beings and our loving God, has been torn to as well.  Jesus did this for us, Matthias.  He did this for me.  He did this is for Sapphira. He did this for you.  I believed in him when I first prophesied to Mary and Joseph and about little Jesus.  I told you. Do you really not know who I am?”

She reached across the table, and grabbed both of my arms, and with the most alive, most dazzling, clearest eyes I have ever seen in my life, said, “Jesus lives! You must follow him to have eternal life.”

And then…

She was gone.


If Sapphira had not seen this, I would have not had the courage to tell anyone.  But she saw Anna too. My old, crazy, lost-her-mind grandma Anna. Restored, complete, transformed, and for an instant, and in an instant, I knew. There is life after death. Life is found Jesus, who surely must, as Anna proclaimed, be alive, too.

I can’t explain this. I don’t know if any others had a similar experience.  But since seeing Anna, I have also heard that in fact Jesus has been by others. He really did rise from the dead.  What was it Anna said as she spoke with us?  She something about Jesus being the first-fruits from among the dead, and more would follow at the proper time.

I’m not sure who I can safely tell about Anna.  But many have seen Jesus.  And rumors have started that several other Christ followers who had died before the crucifixion were seen by their families.  I can’t explain it.  But I know what I’ve heard. And I certainly know what I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.

There is eternal life, and eternity unlocked through faith in Messiah Jesus. He is risen, and more will follow.  I can only believe now, all who follow him in faith will follow him to resurrection.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Keys to Open nextGEN Hearts

Looking through the congregation I noted that most hair was gray and silence filled the nursery. Roughly 25% of the churches in the North Central Conference will have this experience. I am graying. I like gray. But it makes me wonder what we can do more effectively to be Christlike in bidding little children to come and receive the joyous blessings of a caring community.
NCC pastors and delegates have focused this conference year 2014-2015 upon retooling ministry to the nextGEN. Sometimes this is interpreted as hire a youth pastor or start a Bible study on a nearby college campus. We need to think younger. Much younger.
   The simple fact is, most Christians got that way (made an intentional decision to follow Jesus) as children. The actual statistics per the Barna Group show that 43% of all adult Christians began that journey with a decision to follow Jesus before the age 13. More than 2/3rds of believers launched their faith journey before they were 18. Less than 25% of Christ-followers began following after the age of 21.
   Most children “gave their hearts” to Jesus as they prayed to do so with their mom or dad. Family continues to play the single most influential role in the formation of faith and spiritual character. Fewer than 8% of “child converts” report making their decision to follow Jesus as a result of a sermon preached or a particular evangelistic outreach.
   Parents are the prime key to open nextGEN hearts. Mom, how are you sharing the good news with your child? Dad, your example and invitation to enter into Christlife have an inestimable impact. What are you modeling?
   If your church desires to launch an effective and supportive ministry to children (which is as vitally important to parents as their offspring) but your stymied, not sure where to start, here is a suggestion.
   Contact our Children’s Ministries Director, Bethany Abbott who leads the children’s ministries of the Monee IL FMC. She can help, and share some of what is most effective in terms of child evangelism, discipleship and programs like Awana and Vacation Bible School.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Pastors are appointed by a Bishop to local churches in the FMCUSA, they are not hired by the local church. The Bishop consults with a team of lay and clergy leaders that you elect annually to this role at Annual Conference.  That team is called the Ministerial Appointments Committee (MAC). A video describing the MAC process for a church and pastor in transition can be viewed on youtube.

The FMCUSA and NCC can be viewed as a large, complex organization with many sites engaged in fulfilling its mission. We do not view our churches as local silos but as part of a large connection engaged in large-scale blessing of the world with Christ’s good news.  Our MAC and Ministerial Education and Guidance Board systems are developed to provide the best possible screening, training and pairing of quality spiritual leadership with a congregation’s missional purpose and needs.

During this time of year, pastors and the local church delegates are asked to provide annual feedback to the MAC regarding their perceived health of pastoral fit. There are many tools we employ to gauge the health and vitality of a pastor/church fit annually. The annual MAC report is one such tool. Annual interviews with the superintendent, monthly reporting, monthly meetings with peers, coaching, church profiles developed by local church boards, tri-annual congregational review of church and pastoral effectiveness – and good old fashioned as-needed phone calls and visits are used as well. Your pastor, your board, your NCC MEG and MAC and YOU are constantly looking for ways to get it right. Pray for your pastor and delegate during this process. Pray for your church. Pray without ceasing!

Compassionate Hope for the Future

Nelson Mandela wrote, “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” Scripture tells us that Jesus “had compassion on them, for they were as sheep without a shepherd.”

February is COMPASSION MONTH in the NCC. We encourage every church and each follower of Jesus to consider ways of acting with true compassion for those who surround us – often invisibly – in suffering and pain. The Body of Christ still operates today to bring healing and hope.

We expect compassion to be a way of life for Christ followers, not merely something done via a monthly minder nor accomplished by writing a check or uttering a prayer alone. Though checks and prayers are both powerful and effective, we can act with compassion daily.

Still, consider supporting your front line NCC and FMCUSA ministries that extend God’s compassion to areas of great need.

Olive Branch Mission daily tends to the needs of hundreds who would be without shelter or food in the city of Chicago. Not only providing a safe place to stay (though that alone is tremendous) – OBM is one of the country’s most successful addiction rehab centers, its power found through transformed lives centered in Jesus lived in community.

Hearthstone Communities is an award winning and superb example of the best continuous care services available to aging Americans. In addition, Hearthstone provides McHenry County Illinois’ best early learning center, educating children who could not afford enriching young childhood educational experiences on their own. The state cuts funds but the need continues to grow. How will the church of Jesus respond?

International Child Care Ministries provides children and their families all over the world a chance for education, food, medicine and the loving support that enables them to break the cycle of poverty and have profoundly positive influences within their communities.

The Set Free Movement is an FMC based organization which not only advocated to end human trafficking but is actually doing it. Annually the enslaved are set free, laws are enforced and safe houses (including the one operated by Ginger Coakley in Illinois) are operated.

How will you support compassion this month?