YoungLives Expands Ministry During COVID

Amanda Smith of York City YoungLives was used to gathering the teen moms she serves in large groups for weekly gatherings and parties. Then, in March 2020, COVID changed much of what she does. “Ministry is still going strong,” Amanda says, “of course it looks a lot different than it used to.” Since they can no longer meet in large groups, they gather in smaller numbers which gives, “an opportunity to get to know the girls more intimately,” Amanda adds.

YoungLives provides teen moms with support, encouragement and resources as they parent. COVID nearly doubled the number of moms that Amanda serves. “Because of the pandemic, they had nowhere else to go, so they showed up for things. It gave leaders a chance to connect outside of school.” Smith has been providing tangible items for the girls and transportation as well. During quarantine, Uber and buses were closed, so YoungLives staff and volunteers have been driving the girls and getting to know them better in the process.

Listen to Nadia, one of Amanda’s YoungLives attendees, talk about how her life changed after getting involved with YoungLives.

YoungLives received $10,000 from the Christmas Eve …

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An Update From Servants

“[We] try to make it easy for people to get plugged into missions,” Trent Davis, Founder/CEO of Servants says. The Servants office is bustling on a Tuesday afternoon, with volunteers sorting and folding towels and linens recently donated from a hotel. Trent and Relationships Director Marcia Meehan walk around the office, pointing out a volunteer staging area and a warehouse full of donated construction materials and appliances. 

Servants focuses on local home repairs, disaster relief in the Eastern U.S., and international missions in Guatemala and Uganda. “From the beginning,” Trent says, “we always felt God was calling us to those three areas.” 

Living Word has partnered with Servants for the past 3 years, providing volunteers twice a month for the Home Helps program, which repairs homes in York and Lancaster County. Volunteers don’t need to be construction-savvy to help with home helps projects. “Most people have no [construction] skills when they start and they learn things as they go,” Trent says. In a typical year, Servants has over 600 volunteers, but in 2020 they had only 208, even though they completed 100 projects.

“It

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Resources for Lent (Guest Post by Pastor Gordon Carpenter)

Today, Pastor Gordon Carpenter shares some of his favorite resources for the season of Lent. Officially, Lent started last Wednesday, but there is still plenty of time to work through one of the resources below!

There are so many devotionals written for Lent that it’s hard to choose one. I have used many of them over the last 30 years, and I keep returning to those listed here because of the depth, and ease, of their writing. I highly recommend any of these, which are all available at Hearts & Minds Bookstore.

Small Surrenders: A Lenten Journey by Emilie Griffin
Paraclete Press, 2007
Using ancient and modern texts as inspirations for her reflections, Emilie Griffin guides us into a deeper understanding of ourselves and God. She recognizes that Lent is a time of letting go, so she walks us through Lent by using a series of small surrenders that will draw us closer to Jesus.

 

40 Days Living the Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight
Paraclete Press, 2008
We tend to think of Lent as a time of sorrow, repentance, and grief, and that is one of its core ideas. This book was not written specifically for Lent, but if …

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A Sea of White (Guest Post by Connie Milchling)

It is yet another snow day here in York! Our Women’s Ministry Director, Connie Milchling, shared this poem with our staff this morning and we wanted to share it with our congregation. Stay safe, everyone!

A SEA OF WHITE
by Connie J. Milchling 02.11.21

Again, I wake to a sea of white,
fresh snow has fallen overnight,
covered the ground, blanketed our cars,
and deep in my spirit something jars,
with an annoyance that I cannot seem to explain,
maybe something to do with the look of sameness,
over and over and over again,
I am fatigued in my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

In the meantime, the pandemic keeps storming,
it is the exact same news, just different morning,
while months ago (I think I would say?)
that CoVid seemed to strip away,
the color of life once joyously embraced,
which is why I think the snow does not grace,
my spirit as it normally would,
but that does not mean it no longer should.

The question becomes: will I pause to give thanks?
can I see beauty, instead of feeling this angst?
A bluebird lands to eat homemade suet,
and within seconds, dozens more pursue it,
male, female …

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An Update on Living Word’s Work in Ethiopia (Guest Post by Pastor Aaron Kunce)

We’ve been blessed with gifted and passionate partners in Ethiopia for three and a half decades and it’s time for an update. I hope this will be a helpful read as you continue to pray for the people of this country and the ongoing work we are doing there.  

Living Word helped to establish a church of Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti back in the mid 1980s, and then that church planted a church in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia that is still going strong.  

Fifteen years ago, we partnered with a small team of Ethiopian medical professionals and caregivers (led by Dr. Frew Tegene) to start a new ministry endeavor in aEthiopian town called Sendafa.  

This new ministry was called PAAV (Project Adopt A Village) and our mission was to strengthen the churches of Sendafa and to make qualitative difference in the health and well-being of the people there who were reeling from the immense suffering brought on by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

And now in 2021, we rejoice that God has been faithful and has used the PAAV team, coupled with the consistent generosity and service of the people of Living

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National Religious Freedom Day: A Reflection

Most of us don’t remember National Religious Freedom Day (January 16). I know I forget about that date.

A friend told me there is now a “Day of _____” for every day of the year. I didn’t do a fact check, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true.

We have just had several important days celebrating and promoting some very significant issues in our nation.

Monday, January 18, was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—a national holiday that points to the importance of MLK for our nation’s history. Over the years, I have read many books about MLK and many of his speeches as well. MLK and the way he spoke about race, freedom, and justice must always be advanced.

Sunday, January 17, was Sanctity of Life Sunday—a day celebrated by some, but not by all. It is an ideal that is core to our Constitution—life, liberty, and the pursuit of freedom—that many do not experience.

Saturday, January 16, was National Religious Freedom Day, which was established in 1993, voted on unanimously in the House, and 97-3 in the Senate, and then signed into law by President Clinton.

January 16 was chosen because of Thomas Jefferson and …

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Sanctity of Life: A Reflection

Even though Presidents’ Day is not until February, it is worth a side trip to Abraham Lincoln before I share a few thoughts on sanctity of life.

Lincoln was a profound person. He was a man of character, wisdom, and spiritual sensitivity. It has been long debated as to how “orthodox” Lincoln’s faith was. If you are interested in that, you can read the short and very readable Abraham Lincoln: Lessons in Spiritual Leadership by Elton Trueblood.

Whatever you conclude on his orthodoxy, Lincoln had a theological-spiritual sense of the just anger of a holy God who was displeased with slavery in the United States. That is the sense of this agonizing thought from Lincoln in his second inaugural address:

The Almighty has his own purposes. Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh…

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of

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Celebrating the Faith of MLK

January 16 is National Religious Freedom Day, a day to celebrate with gratitude one of the essential freedoms secured by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. 

January 17 is set aside as a day to remember the sanctity of life and pray against the sin of abortion. All life is sacred and should be valued; therefore, God’s people should pray for and labor for the unborn.

Today is Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a national holiday remembering one who believed in the sanctity of all life and who was grateful for the freedom to address the needs and problems of race in our nation.

Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, you will no doubt see your social media feeds filled with people sharing quotes from Dr. King’s speeches on hate and love, nonviolent action, and racial justice. Many people know Dr. King as the preeminent leader of the Civil Rights Movement. But, first and foremost, Dr. King was a reverend. He was a follower of Christ. He was the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. His belief in the dignity of black people was rooted in a Christian faith that believed all people …

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Prayer Prompts from James

At our LWCC staff gathering this week, Pastor Aaron Kunce guided us through prayer prompts from the book of James, adapted from words by author Jessica Van Roekel. As you work through reading James this week, use the prompts below to guide your prayer time.

1. Rejoice in Trials [James 1:2-4] Pray with a renewed trust and joy in God’s presence and work in your life.

2. Resist Temptation [James 1:13-15] Pray that God helps you resist all temptation as you follow Jesus.

3. Rest in God [James 1:21-22] Resting in God is not passive, but active. Examine your life for areas where you are not living out God’s word. As you make the changes to live righteously, your heart will know rest.

4. Accept Others [James 2:12-13] Remember how God has accepted you, and then extend that acceptance to all.

5. Assist Others [James 2:22] Pray for opportunities to serve others as an act of obedience to God.

6. Control Your Tongue [James 3:9-12] Pray for God to redeem your speech to be used to bless and love.

7. Pursue Godly Wisdom [James 3:17-18] Pray for Godly wisdom to be manifested in your daily living.

8. Submit to God

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Three Resources for Better Bible Reading

For many of us, the new year is a great opportunity to commit to a daily Bible-reading plan. We are just one week into 2021, and it’s not too late to commit to reading scripture each day.

There are so many resources to help you as you commit to reading the Bible. Here are just a few.

YouVersion

The Bible App is a handy resource to have on your smart phone to help you explore scripture. There are a wide variety of plans to help you read through the entire Bible in a year, or you can find plans by topic. Some plans are just strictly scripture reading, while others include devotional materials. Once you commit to a plan, YouVersion can send you reminders via push notifications or email. Another great feature is their audio plans, where you can listen to the Bible. (Great for exercising or if you have a long commute!)

BibleProject

This website is one of my personal faves. I love the videos they produce that are animated overviews of books of the Bible. In 2021, I have joined their Bible reading plan, which includes a weekly email with links to passages to read, a video to …

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