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Update from Campinas

Todd Williams - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

God is busy in Brazil!  Here’s a great report from Allen and Robin Dutton, our missionaries in the Brazilian city of Campinas:

Dear friends and family,

I trust you have been having a wonderful day.  It is the beginning of spring in Brazil and this is always a great time of the year.

I want to share some exciting news with you.

We have begun our theology classes again this semester.  We are looking forward to having a great group of students.  This time we are having two different theology groups.  One meets at the Guanabara church building and the other meets in a city called Cosmopolis.  It is about 30 miles north of Campinas.  It has 64,000 people and only two Christians.  God blessed our efforts and we began with 37 students.  Please pray that God will  continue to bless us.  Last week we had 43 in class.  It was a very important class.  The subject was God’s plan of salvation.  Below you will see pictures of this group.  The class meets in a warehouse owned by one of the Christians that lives there.  He has set up the place very nicely and bought 30 plastic chairs to be used in the study.  I had the opportunity to go to a local radio station and speak for 30 minutes about the theology classes.  At the end of our talk the director of the program asked me to lead a prayer.  What a great opportunity this was.  Below is a picture of radio Allen.

We have been blessed again by growth.  God continues to give us the increase.  In the last eight days we have had nine baptisms.  Sunday a week ago, Mateus, Alisson’s son was baptized.  He is 12 years old and you can imagine how emotional his father was baptizing him.  It was a great Sunday.  Also last Monday at the end of the theology class at Guanabara two young men, Daniel and Israel, gave their life to Jesus through baptism.  It was impressive to see the whole group of students witness this important decision.  And yesterday during worship service we had 6 baptisms.  What a blessed day it was.  I baptized Leonardo and Tatiane, a young couple that I am going to marry at the end of the year.  Alisson baptized Diogo and Andressa, another young couple that he is going to marry at the end of the year.  Isn´t it great to have couples deciding to be united in Jesus before they are united in matrimony?  How blessed their married life is going to be!  Alisson also baptized two other young ladies that are in the theology class.  Their names are Elaine and Gabriela.  Below are some pictures of this great day.  Gabriela is not pictured with the group because she was baptized at the end of the service.  

I want to ask you to please pray for our construction at Guanabara.  We have begun tearing down the house next door to our auditorium so that we can enlarge it.  We are averaging 150 in worship service and we can fit comfortably 130 in our current building.  We have had to stop the process while we wait on one more permit from the city.  Of course we want to do everything in the right legal way and this takes a lot longer to get done.  Through your prayers and ours we know that God will bless and honor this process.  It is just taking a lot longer than we expected.  Please join us in prayer asking our God to open the heart and minds of those that are responsible for this permit.  Spring season is the beginning of our rainy season and we had hoped to have at least the foundation completed before the rains came.  We are running behind schedule.  It is frustrating.  I know that we will get this done and it will all be for the glory of God.

We love you all and ask that you pray for our family and for the work in Campinas.

 Allen and Robin Dutton      

 

 

Honoring Mladen

Andy Lashley - Tuesday, September 10, 2013

 

On Friday, we suffered a great loss.  Mladen Jovanovic was a name known by believers across the European continent.  The influence of his work in the churches of Christ there, particularly in the eastern part of the continent, cannot be overestimated.  Mladen passed away unexpectedly in his home on September 6 and we join with his wife Dragica and his church family in mourning his death. 

Ralph Burcham sent the following note upon hearing of Mladen's passing.  The note was read in worship services in Zagreb on Sunday and begins to paint a picture of the kind of man Mladen was and of his impact on the kingdom.  Your prayers for this good family and the church in Croatia are much needed.  From Ralph:

Mladen was a giant in our brotherhood in Europe and around the world.  We first came to know him when Croatia was a part of old Yugoslavia before the iron curtain came down.  We had a student group and he made all the arrangements for us to spend three days there.  Mladen's mission heart became so evident as he took all of us around and explained what was happening in their small church.  This really made an impact on all of us.

When he was sent to Warsaw, Poland, by the university in Warsaw; he was so proud that he did mission work in Poland at the expense of the communist government.  He impacted our brotherhood by being on the lectureship circuit and by his semester at Oklahoma Christian.  He had developed a relationship with Croatia's government leaders and was able to impact that nation by radio.

I knew the couple that converted Mladen; they went to Yugoslavia as missionaries.  They wanted to learn the language and Mladen was the teacher of Bud Pickle and David Gatewood.  They ended up converting him, which was probably the best work they did while there.

Dragica has been such a great co-worker.  She gave the work a touch that can only come from a woman.

 I loved this couple and pray that Dragica will have the support she so deserves.  Blessings!  Ralph Burcham 

First Serve

Travis Akins - Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Our Young Adults Ministry has launched a new ministry geared towards involving young adults in existing ministries. It's First Serve and we have close to 400 opportunities for our 20s & 30s to serve one time with no strings attached.

First Serve is a Billy Hybels product (at least I learned of the concept from him in his book "The Volunteer Revolution"). Here, Hybels suggests a shift in our thinking of how we learn and engage with ministries.

"So here's what we recommend to potential volunteers these days. Embrace wholeheartedly your fundamental identity as a servant of Jesus Christ. Use whatever understanding you have on your personality, passions, areas of interests, talents and preferences to guide you in a general serving direction. Look at the needs in your church and community. Then jump in with a willing heart and an open mind. Drape the servant's towel over your arm and get busy." (The Volunteer Revolution pg.71)

You, like me, have had difficulties at times, or maybe all the time discovering and finding an area of service for the Kingdom of God that is fitting, passion driven or meaningful. First Serve is a jump in ministry. A test drive ministry. A dive in and learn as you go ministry. My hopes with First Serve is to allow our young adults the opportunity to experiment. To test. To try. To simply jump in and learn about the numerous ministries we have at Memorial Road through actual service.

I hope we embrace our identities in Christ to be servants of Christ today. I also hope we don't allow the options or the fears of commitment or the uncertainty of what we may be or what we may actually be getting into to hinder our identity as serving children of God.

Here is a great Hybels' illustration: "imagine having to sign a three-month lease on a car you are considering buying, versus having the freedom to take it on a forty-five minute test drive." First Serve is the test drive. The opportunity to simply see what this ministry is doing and how you might possibly fit in. The best way to know what something is about is to experience it yourself with no fear. First Serve opens the door and allows you to potentially see yourself there more or never again.

So, I pray our young adults will take full advantage of these one time, no strings attached service opportunities. There are many of them! We've worked with many of our MRCC ministries to provide some First Serve opportunities. You may jump in and discover this ministry needs you and you can be a huge asset to their work. You may also discover that there is no way you could be doing this ever again. Both are good things!

Browse the almost 400 options.

Sign-up for as many of the opportunities as you'd like.

Serve.

Click Here to start your First Serve experiences.

Dutton Family

Sarah Graham - Monday, July 22, 2013

Recently we received a letter from the Dutton family in Brazil.

 

Dear friends and family,

                I hope all of you are doing well and enjoying summer.  We are all fine and enjoying winter (50 ⁰F in the mornings and 85 ⁰F in the afternoons).  Not complaining…

                A lot has happened in the last few months.  Let me update you in what God has done through you in the city of Campinas, Brazil.

                We ended another round of our theology courses at the end of May.  We had two groups this semester.  One met at the Guanabara congregation on Monday nights from 7-10pm.  The other met at the Campo Grande congregation on Wednesday nights from 7-10pm.  These are twelve week studies.  We had a good group of students on both ends and graduated 48 students at Guanabara and 24 students at Campo Grande.  This is still an amazing way to reach out to people in this area and to teach the Gospel.  We have been doing this now for 12 years and God always provides people who are interested in studying and learning His will.  We always have baptisms from the theology courses.  This first semester five were baptized as a direct result of the theology courses.  

                  As soon as the theology courses ended we began a shorter course with the main purpose of keeping our students studying with us for another five weeks.  We offered a course on Revelation.  This is always a topic that attracts people.  We began with 60 people at Guanabara (also on Monday nights from 7-10pm) and 40 people at Campo Grande (also on Wednesday nights from 7-10pm).  After the five weeks of classes we graduated 47 students at Guanabara and 29 students at Campo Grande.  It was a great time of Bible study and fellowship.  We have several families now that need to be visited.  We hope and pray that with the door already opened and the seed already sowed God will continue to open their hearts.  We are going to do our part as far as planting and watering and God will make the seed grow. 

                On the 25th of May as most of you already know we celebrated 20 years in Campinas.  It has been an amazing time for our family.  We have been through many challenges and have seen so many blessings.  The church in Campinas has grown.  Church buildings have been built.  The Word has been planted in so many hearts.  Yet, there is still so much to do.  Our prayer is that you will continue to support our family for the next 20 years.  Our prayer is that God will continue to keep us healthy and that doors continue to open and opportunities continue to arise in the teaching and spreading of His will. 

                I want to share with you two great inspiring stories of how the Gospel touches people’s lives.

The first one is about Jose and Marlene.  About four years ago, in March 2009 I began teaching a theology course in Paulinia (one of the greater Campinas cities).  An opportunity came our way as one of the members had an office space downtown and wanted to use it for the Lord.  We had not thought about the idea of beginning a course anywhere other than Campinas.  When this opportunity came our way we decided to try.  We had about 15 students.  Two of these were Mr. Jose and his wife Marlene.  They are both in their late 60s.  After we finished the 15 classes we had no contact with any of these students because none demonstrated interest in continuing to study.  

About one year ago, Jose and his wife came to a worship service at Guanabara.  We were very happy they were there.  Robin and I visited with them in their home and they kept coming.  Every Sunday and every Thursday night for a Bible study.  Before long their grandson (Junior) who is 15 years old began to come with them and became involved with the youth group.  We continued studying with them.  They invited their daughter and son-in-law (Junior’s parents) to be present at the studies.  We studied with the entire family.  On the 4th of May all five of them gave their lives to Jesus through baptism.  Marlene has difficulty walking due to a car accident so we had their baptism at our house in the swimming pool.  Some of the Christians from Guanabara were also present to witness their decision.  Five souls being saved by the blood of Jesus.  It was amazing to see three generations (grandparents, parents and child) giving their lives to Jesus at the same time.  God continues to amaze us with His power and love.  After four years that the seed was sown, God gave the increase.  Today they are faithful members of the Lord’s church at Guanabara.  Below you will find a picture of their baptism.

The second story is about Ademar and Margarida.  About two years ago, in March 2011 Ademar came to a theology course taught at Guanabara.  He lives in São Paulo but works in Campinas where he stays Monday through Friday.  He is a very friendly person.  He was very interested in what we were teaching.  He was part of a denomination in São Paulo.  After the theology classes were over I invited him to come to our Thursday night study at the church building.  He came and never missed a study.  We began talking about his conversion and about his family.  At that time he told me that his baptism was the same as we had studied in the theology classes.  He told me about his wife Margarida and their two daughters.  Ademar was present in every course we offered.  He went through the theology course again in the second semester of 2011 and twice again in 2012.  He continued to come every Thursday night to our Bible study. 

In one of our studies I talked about the importance of doing God’s will and not ours.  I used as an example the teaching on baptism.  This was in April 2013.  After the study (we had about 25 people present) Ademar came to me and said, “Allen, we need to talk about my baptism.”  I thought, “sure, this is what we have been studying about for the last two years.”  We set up a time to talk and he told me that he had talked to his wife and that they both had decided their baptism was not the same baptism he had been studying about in the Bible and that both of them needed to be baptized and wanted to do this together.  He asked me if I would help them with their decision.  On June 17th both Ademar and Margarida were immersed into Jesus.  Ademar woke up early that day and drove to São Paulo to pick up his wife (about 2 hours from Campinas).  She spent the day with him at his work.  At 4pm we met at the building where we studied for three hours.  I had a Revelation class to teach at 7pm.  Both were present for the class and when the class ended at 10pm they were baptized.  What a wonderful night that was.  Tears and smiles were present at the same time on everyone’s faces.  Ademar and Margarida drove back to São Paulo where he spent the night and early next morning he was driving back to Campinas rejoicing because finally he had obeyed God’s will.  It reminded of me of the eunuch in Acts 8:39.  Ademar continues coming to our Thursday night Bible study and now they are members of the Ninth of July Church of Christ in São Paulo where the team that my father was part of began the Lord’s church 52 years ago.  Isn’t this amazing!  Below you will find a picture of their baptism.

We have had 18 baptisms in this first semester.  Please continue your prayers for this work. 

Our attendance has been really good.  We are averaging 145 on Sunday mornings at Guanabara and 80 on Sunday nights at Campo Grande.  We were so happy because on July 7th (two Sundays ago) we had a record attendance at Campo Grande.  We had 101 people present.  Praise God!

We are excited about the second semester.  August 5th we begin two new theology courses.  One at Guanabara and the other in Cosmopolis (another greater Campinas city).  Cosmopolis has a population of 45,000 and only two Christians that we know of.  I am excited about this new place to teach.  Perhaps God has another Jose and Marlene just waiting to hear the Gospel and obey it.  Cosmopolis is about 40 minutes away from Campinas.  I am taking with me my son Tyler and two other men every week to help me and also to train them more.  Please pray that God has already people there with open hearts that are prepared to receive the Word of God. 

 

We love you and miss you,

 

Allen and Robin Dutton               

 

Wichita Work Camp

Sarah Graham - Friday, June 14, 2013




Last week 101 students and sponsors from Memorial attended the 6th Annual Wichita Work Camp to work for FREE! We joined forces with about 200 students and sponsors from around the nation to serve on various projects such as painting 16 homes for families in need, removing debris and painting three city parks along with removing miles of graffiti. It wasn’t all work as we were able to have some fun at a local zoo, science museum and ice skating rink. In the evenings we were blessed to have James Simmons lead worship and Willie Sanchez deliver life changing messages. The theme of the week was “Changed” and it was awesome not only to see the City of Wichita being changed but more importantly the lives of students, sponsors, homeowners and city workers being impacted eternally all because we Served God, By Serving People. 

-Kurtis Dobbs, Youth Minister

Church Family Friday: Bailey Edition

Sarah Graham - Friday, May 17, 2013

As a large church family, nobody can know everybody.  But with Church Family Fridays, we’re going to try to introduce different MRCC families and learn some fun facts about them along the way.  So if you get the call, we hope you’ll participate!  This week, we get the ball rolling with the Bailey family.

Josh, Sarah, Brenna, and Piper Bailey came to Memorial Road in 1999 and attend 1st Service on Sundays. They are active in Bible class, Brother’s Keeper Groups, Women’s Small Groups, A/V, and Journeyland. Recently, we surveyed the Bailey family to get to know them better and here were the results.

What is your occupation?

Sarah – Secretary

Josh –Program Director, Graduate School of Theology at Oklahoma Christian University

What is your favorite food?

Piper & Brenna –Marshmallows

Josh –Cereal

If you were invisible, where would you go?

Brenna & Piper –to 6 flags & sneak on the rides

Josh –a house & pretend it was haunted.

Sarah –the movies

Do you play a musical instrument?

Josh –Saxophone

Sarah –Trumpet

Brenna –Harmonica

If you have to dress and leave in a hurry, what is the one thing you can easily cut out of your routine?

Piper –Underwear

Josh –Combing hair

How many books did you read last year?

Collectively –hundreds

Were you named after anyone?

Josh –Dad

Sarah –Dad

Brenna –Grandma

Piper –Aunt

Have you ever won anything? If so, what did you win?

Brenna –Essay contest

Piper -1st grade Student of the Month

Josh -$1000 Gift Card

Sarah –Josh’s heart

Have you ever cut your own hair?

Josh & Sarah –YES

Brenna & Piper -NO

 Have you ever helped a stranger?

Josh –Changed a lady’s tire

Piper –Opened the door for someone

Brenna –Gave cakepops to a stranger

Sarah –Josh and I called 911 for a woman who had attempted suicide

 

 

We hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about the Bailey family and will get to know them through church activities, if you don’t already.

To nominate yourself, or another individual or family for Church Family Fridays, please contact Sarah Graham at sarah.graham@mrcc.org.


Throwback Thursday

Sarah Graham - Thursday, April 18, 2013

 

 

Linda (Leftwich) Wheeler and Bill Boker (oldest son of Judy Boker) - 1974

Linda (Leftwich) Wheeler was 16 when this photo was captured at a youth group float trip on the Illinois River in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. We asked Linda what the story was behind this photo and this was her response.

We were just kids goofing around while waiting for adults to make decisions.  When we got to Tahlequah, it had been raining a lot and the river was high. So we waited around a long time for the float trip company to decide if it was safe for us to go or not.  They finally decided we could float in rubber rafts but not the canoes.  (I’m pretty sure they were more concerned about their canoes than they were about us!)  Well, it was a wild ride, and everyone got wet!  I’m surprised no one was injured, or worse; but, by the grace of God, we all survived!  Harold Shank, our youth minister, and his wife Sally were with us, as well as MRCC members – Lori (Phillips) Walle, David North, Julie (North) Anderson, Kris White; probably Sherri (Ellison) Hooper and Stace (Southerland) Shields.  Others I remember were Stacy Villines, David Rhodes, Chris Southerland, Linda (North) Parker, Susan (North) Monan, Kathy Burcham, etc., etc., etc.  It is a great memory!

-Linda (Leftwich) Wheeler

InterMission: Team Vienna

Sarah Graham - Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Clay Hart our International Minister and his wife Cherry are active members on our InterMission team. Recently, the Hart's traveled to Vienna and spent time with the Hensal family to prepare them for their upcoming reentry. We thank Cherry for sharing the details of their recent trip.      

Mission work is not for the faint-hearted.  From the first moments of packing suitcases to leave for unfamiliar land and culture, to the heart-wrenching hugs and tears as families say goodbye to their loved ones, the cost of spreading the gospel is considerable and the sacrifices are many. The InterMission Ministry (consisting of four missionary couples who have spent extended time overseas) exists to strengthen the hearts and hands of these men and women in order to give them refreshing and hope on the long and sometimes arduous paths they travel.

 

 Meeting with the Vienna team.

Memorial Road Church of Christ supports many such families who have counted the cost and considered the comforts of home but loss for cause of Christ. Four of these families live in Vienna, Austria. InterMission spent a delightful week in Vienna with the Hensals, Haskews, Koois, and Rybinskis.  Time was spent individually with each family, and then with the Vienna team.

 

 Edward and Sharon Short eat with the Rybinskis'.

The Vienna team faces the challenge of transition. The Hensal family has decided that it is time for their family to return to the United States. This is a time of transition not only for the Hensals as they contemplate the challenges of bidding farewell to the Austrian Christians they have converted and nurtured, but also for the Haskews as they adjust to being the last of the original Vienna team to remain. Will and Holly Kooi also face the adjustment of losing very important on-site mentors and friends. Although the Rybinskis are working with Eastern European Missions, and are not officially a part of the Vienna team, we were struck by how much encouragement they offer to the Vienna team, and how deeply they are loved.  They, too, will miss the wonderful fellowship they have enjoyed with Josh, Kim, and their children.

 

Group from Austrian church.


Will Kooi impressing the group with his German speaking skills as he tells Huang where the church meets as Ed Short looks on.

The week was spent discussing the transitions to come, and suggesting tools that will prove useful as these challenges arise. InterMission held special sessions with the Hensal children, to help them understand a little more about moving to another country. This was also a week to give praise to God for the marvelous things He has done through His servants in Vienna. We were blessed to spend Sunday morning experiencing fellowship with Austrian Christians in worship, which was led in large part by the Austrians themselves. God has worked in the hearts and lives of the Austrians to assume more leadership in the church.  Our prayer is that this will continue as the missionaries who remain in Vienna empower these brothers and sisters in Christ.

Cherry and Sharon Short work with the Hensal kids to build transition bridges out of popsicle sticks and construction paper.

 

The Kooi's and the InterMission team.

As our plane lifted from the tarmac of the runway to wing us back to the United States, our hearts were filled with gratitude.  We are thankful for these amazing families are their sacrifices for the kingdom.  We are thankful for those precious souls He is drawing to Himself through His servants.  And we are very, very thankful for the foresight of the Memorial Road missions committee who have recognized the need to give their missionaries the tools and care they need to sustain refreshing for the far journey. 

-Cherry

From the Ground Up

Sarah Graham - Wednesday, April 03, 2013

 Recently, students for our Campus Ministry traveled to San Antonio to build houses for Habitat for Humanity. Braeden Fair, from McKinney, Texas, was among this group and shared with us his view of the trip.

 To start things off, San Antonio was a major success. This past week was filled with a lot of hard work, fellowship and overall great times spent with each other.

 

It was my first mission trip, so I didn't know what to expect, besides the fact that we would be working on houses for Habitat for Humanity. With that being said, I did learn one certainty that was ever-present each day. God's love was clear and visible in everyone that was there.

 

The fact that 40 some odd people were all there working to build someone a house was very uplifting. Not only did I realize how present His love was, it was clear to me that I was at the right place in helping others. 

 

For me in the past, spring break was all about playing baseball and "vacationing". Never have I chosen my time to help others, and to do so this break opened my eyes to another path that God has in store for me. -Braeden

Stevie Goes to Ghana

Sarah Graham - Monday, March 11, 2013
Ghana has become a growing part of our missions focus over the past few years.  Stevie White went on the most recent Ghana trip a few weeks ago and sent us the following post.

I was sitting on the plane to Ghana for the second time, but was filled with the same emotions as the first-excitement and nervousness. This time around, my trip was shorter and our group was smaller than the previous May trip I went on with the college group.  We were a group of ten with many things God had placed on our heart to accomplish in Africa.  One of the goals I wanted to focus on was showing God’s love through a medical clinic.  On one particular day, we had set up clinic at a village called Ayikai Doblo in an empty schoolroom.  Our group canvased the small area and we had many people show up for the clinic. The best part was that as I looked around the schoolyard everyone in our group was actively engaged in making a difference in the lives of the village.  There were games going on with the kids, singing, dancing, laughing, talking, nutritional advice, well-fixing and loving on others all in the name of the LORD.  While we may have been there for a clinic, it was evident that God was acting through every facet of our group in more ways than just the clinic.

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Rae Boswell giving one of the children in Ayikai Doblo manna, which helps to correct malnutrition. It is similar to a thick peanut butter and full of basic nutritional needs.

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A different form of jump rope that the kids play.  Also, this is the roof that Heartbeat for Hope is helping to build for the congregation there.

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The kids at Ayikai Doblo running to meet Caleb Holsey to help carry well building supplies.

Another sweet memory is one that happened right as we arrived at the Village of Hope. We were on a large school bus and drove through the gates to the back part where we were staying. As we drove through, many of the children saw us and ran to the bus to greet us. It was close to their bedtime but they remained waiting for us.

Their sweet smiles and cheers illuminated the night. We were all greeted with hugs and genuine excitement before we could even exit the bus.
  It couldn’t have been a more perfect welcome.

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Stevie White and friends on the way home from school.

 

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A class of second graders showing the lion masks they created during an Art Camp put on by Judi Lashley and her sister, Lesa Branch, at the Village of Hope.

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Jeff McMillon and several friends from the Village of Hope that Heartbeat 4 Hope helps to support.

-Stevie White