A blog post by Ruthie Seiders, Grace Chapel's Pastor of Next Generation Ministries
Mark, Sam, Nathalie, Becky, and Jesse. Sam, Victoria, Hannah, and Gabi. James, Gracie, Emma, Ester, and Zoe were names I “collected” at One Church Sunday on May 17. As the Pastor for NextGen Ministry one of my goals is to get to know as many of the names of our children and youth as I can! So Sunday was a great opportunity to add to my collection since we were all gathered for worship in one place.
My day started with donning an orange vest and carrying a wand to direct traffic. Joined by members of the Student Ministry Team and a few hearty young people we welcomed dozens of musicians and singers who arrived between 7:00 and 7:30 am to set up and rehearse. When the second shift of traffic workers arrived I called one of the high-schoolers over to take my spot so I could enter the arena. My next stop were the childcare areas to see how the Children’s Ministry Team was doing. They were busily setting up our spaces to care for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Whole family groups chose to volunteer taking care of the youngest children, along with an assortment of teenagers and adults. There was an air of excitement and joy as they waited for the littlest members of Grace Chapel to arrive.
My third job was to stand in the lobby greeting people as they were arriving. This was a great way to meet members of the Grace Chapel family, collecting more names! Yani and Johann were getting baptized. Harrison and Caroline were excited to worship with mom and dad. I watched as the Prayer Team gathered for their marching orders and off they went to pray over every seat in the arena. The Welcome Team clustered together to be briefed on the procedures for welcoming thousands to worship. Our new friends from local helping agencies were setting up their tables in hopeful expectancy that donations would indeed be coming through the doors. And behind the scenes the Event Leadership Team was working in harmony with the Arena Staff to make sure all was well.
And then, after traffic jams and long lines, the worship service began! I made my way to my fourth stop, the Family Seating Area (aka “the bar”). I found families with little ones beginning to worship in a space where their children could get up and move around. Additionally, several of our SHINE kids and their teen or adult buddies were using that space as home base. Occasionally they would go for walks around the arena to see what was happening. A number of older adults found the family space to be a comfortable place to sit even with the children happily sitting just behind them. It reminded me of a family reunion.
What a unique worship experience! The music with combined teams, orchestra and choir was phenomenal. I saw adults and youth of all ages leading worship side by side, playing instruments and singing songs. Casting my eyes around the arena it was amazing to see so many seats filled with adults, teens, and children worshiping together.
Children carrying their little worship bags entered the arena and sat with parents and grandparents, as well as the faith parents of other adults all around them. They saw their campus pastor greet them along with the others, all excited to be together in one worship service. They got to hear the Mayor of Lowell give thanks for the gifts they brought to help those in need in the city. They watched a video recorded and produced by some of our own students, interviewing some of their friends! They saw the coach of the Celtics taking a stand for the importance of his faith and regular church attendance for him and his family. They counted how many times Pastor Bryan mentioned Jesus’ name in his sermon (I have yet to get a total!). And then they not only witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon those attending, but some of the older children and teens came forward themselves to confess, unashamedly, their faith in Jesus Christ and step into the waters of baptism.
People of all ages kept streaming out of their seats. We watched in awe as men and women, young and old, in multi-colored t-shirts stood next to a pastor waist deep in water. Proclaiming their faith they humbly submitted to Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives. Rising to new life, they emerged from the water with tears, smiles, hugs, and praises for what God was doing in their lives that very moment. One little guy was so captured by the event he stood next to Pastor Jeanette and held towels and signs for those going into the water.
The service concluded when four young people joined the musicians on stage to lead us in the singing of the modern hymn, In Christ Alone. Listening to their voices as they sang, “No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from his hand,” I realized this was a unique moment in the life of our church. This was a true intergenerational event with children, youth, and adults, side by side, serving, leading, worshiping, and boldly confessing Christ as Lord!
Your NextGen team longs for more opportunities for our children and youth to experience what it means to be part of the worshiping congregation here at Grace. This is a perfect time to announce our summer initiative called “Families in Worship.” On every campus the NextGen Team is making available the opportunity for families to worship together during the month of July. You’ll be hearing more about this soon, but for now, plan on our worshipping congregations having more of an intergenerational feel. Faith parents, see how many names of young people you can learn this summer, just by coming to the worship services. It’s a great time to start your own “collection!” Have you met John, and Stefan, and Edward, and Beverly, and…?
Deeper, Closer, Wider
A blog post by Ruthie Seiders, Grace Chapel's Pastor of Next Generation Ministries
Jeanette Yep is Grace Chapel's Pastor of Global and Regional Outreach.
We thank God that all 4 of Grace Chapel's partners in Nepal are safe!
- Samuel Bomzon is the pastor of the Bethel Assembly of God church, Kathmandu. Samuel and his family are safe. He and his wife have been sleeping in their small car for days. His church in Kathmandu is standing. Many daughter churches in the villages throughout the country have collapsed, some killing worshippers during the earthquake, including the church in Samuel's home village. Many villages have been totally destroyed. The Assembly of God is organizing efforts to give assistance.
- Ram Kumar Budathoki is the principal of Nepal Ebenezer Bible College. Ram and his family are all safe, as are the students at the school. However, many of the students have families and homes in villages that have been destroyed.
- Sharad Lama is the general secretary of the NBCBS (an IFES related university student ministry) - Sharad and Sanjana were with us during Global Awareness week last November. Sharad and his family are safe. His wife Sanjana, a nurse, is working in a hospital helping the injured. Their 12 year-old son has been so frightened at seeing a church wall collapse and injure people, that he won’t return to their 3-story home. Instead, he is staying with his grandparents in a single story dwelling. Sharad reports that all NBCBS staff, volunteers and student leaders have been spared. They are assessing the situation and getting organized to respond.
- Dinesh Neupane - Prison Fellowship Nepal. Dinesh and his family are all safe as are all the children in the 3 homes PFN operates. The boys’ home in Kathmandu has been damaged and the boys are living in a church at this time.
Your NEXT generosity initiative giving at work:
In response to this week's earthquake in Nepal, Grace Chapel has sent $25,000 to World Relief and $25,000 to World Vision to assist these Christian international relief and development agencies as they meet the relief needs in Nepal. We've set aside another $100,000 from the missions budget to help meet the relief and development needs of our 4 ministry partners who are indigenous Nepali Christians. They will need some time to assess their rebuilding needs. We'll be ready to respond as we hear from them.
We are so thankful for the generosity of our congregations. It's a privilege to be able to meet some of the great material and spiritual needs of the world with these acts of kindness and generosity.
Let's continue to pray that the Christian minority in Nepal will work together in sacrificial service, and that those who are grieving and have lost so much will have their needs met by our loving God.
Below is an update from Ram Kumar Lama, who's with NBCBS, one of our ministry partners in Nepal:
Dear all, Greetings from Nepal.
We, NBCBS, extend gratitude to all who have been writing emails with prayer and concern. So far students and graduates affiliated with NBCBS are safe but their houses have been damaged, they have been staying in tent since last Saturday.
At present colleges and universities are close. Students have moved to their villages to see their families and relatives from cities where they were studying.
Rescue and relief work has been rapidly carrying out by Nepal government, neighboring countries, international government agencies, NGOs, INGOs, private sector as well as individuals. Still assistance is not enough. Still many places relief supplies have not been reached. Situation is chaotic.
NBCBS has started work from eastern part of Kathmandu in camps where affected people have been placed. NBCBS students are focusing on hygiene. Students are mobilized to collect trashes surrounding camps, provide sanitary pad for women and girls, dietary food for children, diapers for children and sanitary masks.
[caption id="attachment_363" align="alignnone" width="300"] We started to help people of this areas who have been placed in camps.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_364" align="alignnone" width="300"] Many buildings are unsafe to enter.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_365" align="alignnone" width="300"] Students collecting trash from the tents where people are staying.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_366" align="alignnone" width="300"] Women receiving sanitary pad and masks.[/caption]