This time of year, the word new usually comes to my mind. Although the new year is in January, it feels like it should start in September doesn’t it? Kids are going to school or back to school. College students are moving to campus. It is a year of new adventures. New teachers, new classrooms, and new friends.
It is a chance for them to start over. A chance to start fresh. A chance to leave the problems of the year before in the past, and to get a new start. For students starting school, starting at a new school, or starting at college, this feeling of a new start is even bigger.
Somedays this newness looks pretty good doesn’t it? Life gets tiring doing the same things day after day. We wish for something new and exciting. We wish for a new start. God gives us this opportunity in 2nd Corinthians 5:17 “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
How comforting it is to know that we have this promise. Each day, we can choose to accept this new life. We can leave the old things behind us and have our spirit renewed. What do we need to do? Go to the one who can truly renew us, God. Let go of the old things, that you don’t want. This is not always easy to do; it can be quite difficult. Even when we know that it is best, the new can still be scary. Finally, we accept the new life that God offers.
God continues to do new things in His ministry here at Bdecan. Our KICK program started as an evening program when I began. A few years back we changed it to after school, to give the kids a chance to get to the church by school bus. This year we are still starting after school but extending it into the evening. We now are going to try ending with a family meal so parents and grandparents can join us after work.
New is exciting, but it is not always easy. New ideas usually require work. It is finding what works and realizing what needs to be adjusted. It requires reminding people of the changes that are taking place. It is worrying if the new things will succeed or not. It is about changing the way you are used to doing things. In the end, it is trusting in God, that these new things are best for us.
Accept God’s gift of newness. It is sometimes painful but is always worth it.
July was a busy month for me. First, July 15th, I took a bus from Fargo to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdure University in West Lafayette Indiana. I traveled with youth and other adults from the Presbytery of Northern Plains, including 2 youth from Bdecan. The Triennium is a conference for high school Presbyterians that happens every 3 years. It was a week of learning, worship, food, getting to know the friends you came with better, meeting new friends. Of course there was tons of other fun too. It was a busy week, but also very inspiring!
When I got back to Fargo, July 21st I went straight to Buena Vista University in Storm Lake Iowa for Synod school. I took courses about things that mattered to me, including one of Native American Spirituality. For me, Synod School is like a big Presbyterian reunion, where I meet old friends that I don’t see often and make new ones.
When trying to find a verse that summed up both of these weeks I decided on 1 Timothy 4:12. It says, Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for all believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.
During the Triennium, I got to have some amazing discussions with the youth that came with us. I heard their thoughts on some really challenging questions. The thing that surprised me most was their passion for worship. Some of our youth waited over an hour each day to get good seats for worship. It was amazing to worship with over 5,000 youth and adults.
There were many fun parts of Synod School this year. I really enjoyed the worship. My favorite part was something that I hadn’t seen done there in past years. Before the message each day, the pastor had a time with the kids. All the kids would go up, and she was surrounded by kids on all sides, from toddlers to 12 year olds. Even with no kids of my own, this was always a sweet moment.
Each time, she asked the kids their advice on a question that went with her sermon. Some answers were the ones you would expect from kids, and the congregation would smile, or chuckle. There were other answers too. Answers that were so simple, they blew the congregation away. Each day, she used some of the answers that they gave as a large part of the Benediction to the service.
This reminds a kid’s night here years ago. There was a pastor friend of mine visiting me. He sat with the kids while I taught. I remember one boy specifically. While the rest of the kids were trying to pay attention, he was constantly distracted. He was talking, or moving, or out of his seat. I reminded him time and time again what he was supposed to be doing. By the looks of it, he was not taking anything from what I was teaching that night.
After the lesson, my friend said something that amazed me. He was watching this boy as well. He told me that although the boy was being distracting during most of the lesson, he knew every answer to every review question I had asked the group. From the front, it looked like that lesson was wasted on him, but it was not.
Working with youth and kids, I sometimes wonder how much they even get out of my class. They seem so distracted that it doesn’t even seem that they hear anything I say. The truth is, they are. Time and time again, they say something, and I am blown away by their knowledge. Sometimes they are listening, even when they act like they are not.
This scripture is telling young people to not let people judge them for being young but to be examples in faith. I don’t think this lets the rest of the congregation off the hook though. How can the congregation help the young people do this? We need to let their voices be heard in our congregations today. Yes, they are the church of tomorrow. How can they be the future leaders, if we don’t include them in the church today? I believe our job is to get to know the young people in our congregations. Ask them for their ideas. See what matters to them. Get them included in worship. Give them a chance for their voice to be heard. You may be surprised by their knowledge, as I often am!
We had 2 fabulous weeks of VBS at Bdecan in June.
Our first VBS was June 12th - 14th. The group was part of the Presbyterian Women of East Iowa Presbytery. We were SO happy to have this new group come and visit us, and do 3 days of Vacation Bible School with our kids. That week the theme was being Good Neighbors.
The days were filled with Bible Stories, crafts, games, food, and tons of fun!
Our other VBS in June was June 25th - 28th. It was a group from Rochester MN, with others from Ely MN, Amboy MN, and Santa Rosa CA as well. We are so happy that First Presbyterian Church in Rochester MN has been sending a team for the last 5 summers.
The theme was treasures, and the kids found out that they were the things that God treasured the most.
We always have so much fun with the ladies from Rochester Minnesota!
A big thank you to both of these groups. You have shown our kids here so much love. They do not forget what they learn from you.
If you would like to come to do a VBS program next summer, I am already scheduling them.
please call my office (701) 294-2283
or email me at:
Soon it will be Mother’s Day. It is a day that we celebrate moms, grandmas, aunts, and all the special women who care for us. It is fitting that today’s story is a tale of 2 sisters, Mary and Martha. It is from Luke chapter 10.
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.
Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Although they were related, in this story, they couldn’t be more different. Jesus is planning to visit their home. Not just Jesus, but many of his followers as well. We meet Martha first, hard at work. We can imagine her cleaning, sweeping, and mopping for days to get the house ready. We can see her spending hours, even days preparing the food. She wants to be sure everything is perfect.
At points, I know exactly how Martha is feeling. I feel that way when I am busy preparing my home for guests. Hours or days cleaning, cooking, and planning for their arrival. It just gets me tired.
Where is Mary when Martha is doing all of this? She is out, sitting with Jesus and his disciples, listening to His teaching. She is taking what Jesus is saying in, just being present with Him in the moment.
Martha gets frustrated. They both are supposed to be hosting together, but she’s the only one doing work. We know how that feels, don’t we? When we feel like we are the only one doing anything, and everyone else is sitting around. Finally, Martha storms out of the kitchen, pleading with Jesus to send Mary back to help her.
He does not. Instead, he tells her that Mary made the right decision. There are moms and Grandmas that know hard work like Martha. Taking care of the house, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, work, school, family, friends, the list goes on and on.
The fact is, we need some Martha in our lives. There are times where we just need to get things done, and Martha does that well. We need Martha’s in the church. They help clean, decorate, cook for the congregation, and help with the kids. They make sure that the church is ready for worship each Sunday. They do so much that goes unnoticed.
As important as Martha is, we can’t forget about Mary. Even with all the work there is to do, she decides to sit with Jesus. Mary decides to just be there, be present in the moment. To take time to take in Jesus’ teaching. In a world that is so busy, we need time to just breathe.
Many people feel that they need to be either a Mary or a Martha. If they are completely Martha, they do all the work of the house. They do everything for everyone else. Others are fully Mary, sitting there, watching others work, being thought of as lazy. The fact is, what we need is a mixture of both sisters. To be willing to do the work, but to also know when to relax, and let Jesus refill us.
Thank you, moms, grandmas, aunts, sisters, and other ladies,
for all the ways you serve.
Spring has come to Bdecan!
The days are getting longer. The weather is getting warmer. The snow is melting away, and the grass is coming back. I love this time of year. I just feel like celebrating.
One of my favorite celebrations in the New Testament happened on Palm Sunday. Luke 19 tells us,
32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.
33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.
36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a]
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
How I would have loved to be in Jerusalem on that day! What a street party it must have been. Everyone in the streets seeing what was happening. This is an exciting day. Laying their coats in front of Jesus’ donkey, and waving palm branches in the air as He entered. Can we blame them? The promised Savior is making his way into Jerusalem for the Passover. Everyone is crazy excited for his arrival. Well, almost everyone.
The Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of that time were not happy about this. They were already not happy about what Jesus was teaching. It went against how they understood the Old Testament, and what they had learned growing up. They wanted someone who was just for them, but Jesus came for all people.
They were worried about the crowd getting out of control. They were worried about the news of Jesus continuing to spread. They were worried about the number of Jesus’ followers continuing to grow. They realize that there is no way for them to quiet this crowd down on their own. They ask Jesus to help quiet the crowd down. His followers were leading the celebration, maybe if Jesus got them to stop, everyone else would as well.
Jesus tells them that this would do no good. Even if the crowds were silent, the rocks would cry out. Now I don’t know about you, but I think rocks growing mouths would look pretty silly. I think what Jesus means is this. If the crowd stopped praising God, creation itself would begin. This is how important this news was. It was news that was too good for people to keep to themselves. Their Savior had arrived!
I wonder how much Jesus knew about the week that was ahead of him? Did he know that he would be eating his last meal later that week? Did he know that he would be betrayed and disowned by his own disciples? Did he know that there would be another crowd gathering just a few days later. Instead of shouting praises, they would be shouting crucify him? Did Jesus know the pain that he would endure getting beaten, abused in every way, and nailed to the cross?
Jesus is the son of God, so he must have known what was ahead of him. I’m guessing he knew most of what he would face that week. Even knowing all of this, Jesus decides to enjoy that moment. To take in this celebration while it lasted. We can imagine him laughing, smiling, waving at the crowds during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a welcome that was fit for a king!
As we continue through this season of lent, let God prepare our hearts for what is ahead. First for the celebration ahead of us on Palm Sunday and Jesus’ entry. Then, for the even bigger celebration of Easter, when we celebrate our Savior raising from the dead.
This news is too good for us to keep to ourselves. As we celebrate the life coming back in the spring, let us celebrate Jesus coming back to life.
Let this celebration not end at Easter. Let us celebrate throughout year that we are saved! Not because of what we have done, but because of what Christ did for us.
As I look out of my home office, there is nothing but snow. Everything is covered in white. So far in 2019 many of our wind chills here have been below 0. There seems to be a new winter weather warning just about every week. I often have a feeling of being trapped inside, waiting for it to be nice enough to go out. Sometimes I wonder if I can get my car out of my driveway. Many times, I wonder how much longer it will last. If you live in the Midwest, you may know this feeling.
This time of waiting for spring reminds me of the hope found in the story of Habakkuk. He is a prophet. Most of his short book shows his complaints, and questions to God, and God’s response back to him. At the end of chapter 3, we find something hopeful. It says;
“17 Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen, and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”
This is a very difficult, but also very beautiful conclusion to his story. Although there is death and destruction all around him, Habakkuk ultimately chooses hope. Although their trees, fields, and stalls are bare, Habakkuk chooses to trust in the Lord. Although this is the end of his story, it is not the end of God’s story. God is still at work doing many great things.
In these (sometimes) long winter months, it can be easy to feel like Habakkuk, trapped. Being surrounded by snow, cold, darkness, and lifeless trees and plants. Like Habakkuk, we can be assured that something better is still on the way. The temperatures will rise, the snow will melt, the days will get longer, and the lifeless trees and plants will be full of life again. More than that, we have the assurance of Christ coming back for us. Life here is only temporary, with Christ, we have life eternal. Habakkuk hoped that something better was still coming. We can be assured of it, we just have to wait.
God has done so many amazing things at Bdecan. God has grown this ministry in ways that I cannot even imagine. Things are happening that were just dreams years ago. Even though God has already done and is continuing to do wonderful things, I am convinced that He is not done yet. I believe that God still has great plans for this ministry. Plans that don’t even know about yet. We still have work to do here, and we still need your continued support. We believe like Habakkuk, that God’s best is still before us.
If you are lucky, you may be able to see the fruits of your labor here. Many of you probably won’t get that chance. I want you to know that the time, energy, supplies, and money that you invest to our ministry is making a difference, and will continue making a difference in the months and years ahead. We are thankful for what we have received, and we are full of hope to see what God does with this ministry in the years to come!
Bdecan Presbyterian Church
Phone (701) 294-2283
Valentine’s day is coming up this month. It is a day where we think about love, and showing each other that we care about them. There are many ways that we can do this. Many send cards, chocolate, flowers, and other gifts. Buying gifts is one way to do this. There is another way to show love too, in our actions towards each other. An example of this is shown in the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[a] “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii,[b] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
First, lets talk about what we don’t see happen to this man, lying on the side of the road. The first 2 people to passed by this man. The first one was a priest, a Jewish religious leader. We expect him to stop. We expect him to show compassion on this poor man. But no. He sees the man, realizes he is too busy, crosses the street, and keeps on walking, forgetting all about him. There comes a Levite, an assistant to a priest. We expect him to stop. Once again no. He again sees the man, and crosses the street, and keeps on walking. This story specifically tells us that both these men noticed him, but neither one would stop to help one of their own Jewish brothers in need. We don’t know why they didn’t stop, but we know they keep walking.
Finally, someone else comes down the road. It’s a Samaritan. This is the worst possible person. From other stories, it is obvious that the Jewish people and the Samaritans did not get along very well. We expect this traveler to do many different things. We expect him to just keep walking, like the others. We expect him to laugh at the man. We expect him to finish off what the robbers had begun. At that moment, it would have been easy. What we see is unexpected. He cares for the man’s wounds and bandages him up. He loads the man on his own animal, and leads him to an inn. He pays for this stranger’s stay, and for someone to care for him. He even offers to come back, and pay more money his next time through, if that is needed. Which of these 3 acted like a neighbor? It is obviously, the third. Jesus closes by saying “go, and do likewise”
How sad it is that in 2019 we are still surprised by the outcome of this story. What the Samaritan does is still unexpected. Many times, it is easier for me to just keep going rather than stopping to help someone who needs it. But Jesus calls us, to go, and use the Samaritan as an example.
Through my years at Bdecan, I have seen something time and time again. This congregation may do things differently than others. They may eat different things or sing in a different language. But repeatedly, I see that we have way more similarities than we have differences. One of my favorite moments is when individuals and teams realize this, that they are people like us. That what they desire most, is what everyone wants, to be valued, to be accepted, to be loved.
I love people and teams coming to Bdecan, and would love for you to come and see what we do. Know that ministry doesn’t end here though. My guess is that many of you have neighbors in need in your home communities, or at least closer to you than we are. Although we are separated by miles, we have the same mission, to go out, and love our neighbors.
You may be able to do what the Samaritan did. If you cannot, there is still plenty you can do. Get a group together to help serve a meal to those in need. Give those things that you no longer use away to those who may need it more than you do. Go and hold the door to someone whose arms are full. Mostly, just go and be present. Listen to someone’s story who isn’t being heard. Go and be LOVE.
In this month where we are constantly talking about love, my hope is that we continue going out, and showing God’s love to others. Showing love in what we say, and what we do. My hope is that the more and more that we go out in love, the more and more regular it becomes. It is then that the Good Samaritans actions will be less unexpected, and be more of an everyday thing.
Blessings to you all!
Bdecan Presbyterian Church
Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year.
Since I was young, I’ve always loved the moment that I can put my Christmas decorations out. I love seeing others Christmas lights and decorations going up all over. I love going to Christmas pageants, concerts, and programs. I love going to Christmas movies, or watching them and Christmas specials at home. I love the Christmas baking. I love shopping for the perfect gift for others. I love all the festive events that lead up to Christmas. As much as I love all of this, this month of December always seems to get busy.
But then Christmas comes, the thing I love the most. I feel joy as I see the kids at Bdecan presenting the Christmas program I work weeks to put together, and the smiles it brings to our congregation. Then, I go home, and get to celebrate with my family and friends. All the work that goes into getting ready for Christmas seems to fade away, and I get to experience what Christmas really is.
It’s about Mary and Joseph giving up their plain, ordinary, comfortable lives to become the parents of the Savior of the world. Jesus, the King of the world, not being born in a palace or a castle like he deserved, but in a manger, in a barn, surrounded by animals. For Jesus to save us, he had to be born like one of us. A humble, quiet, non-extravagant birth. The shepherds leaving their sheep (the things that mattered most to them) to be the new King’s first visitors. Wise men traveling thousands of miles to meet the new Savior that they had only been told of in a dream. Bringing him the best of what they had.
In the Nativity story we are reminded what Christmas is really about. The lights, the decorations, the extravagant gifts, and all the rest are nice, but these things pass away. Jesus didn’t have much of this on the first Christmas. It was a simple event.
It is about being together with those who we love, and remembering those not able to be with us. It is about relationships. It is about keeping traditions alive, and creating new memories. It is about letting those we love know how much they mean to us. Besides the gifts we give to friends and family, many also feel this special urge to give to those who don’t have what we do.
This shouldn’t be just a Christmas thing, but many seem to be more willing to give at this time of year. We at Bdecan and on the Bdecan Ministry Team are so thankful for how you have all opened your hearts to Bdecan. Not just at Christmas, but for what you give us year-round. Whatever need we bring to our supporting community, it is met. We cannot thank you enough.
With so many people around the country struggling right now financially, I expected our giving to be down this year. I am so proud that we have received more donations this year than ever before. Because of what you give, we are able to involve more kids and youth in our programs. We rely on donations from others. You are the ones that make this ministry as successful as it is.
The thing that we are the most thankful for is the way you have spread the story of what God is doing at Bdecan way beyond what the members of the Ministry Team can do on their own. When you go out, and share our stories with your groups, churches, families, and communities awesome things happen. You have no idea how many relationships that have been built because someone shared our story. We cannot say thank you enough for all that you do for us both at our church, and in your home communities.
Know that you are loved and appreciated. We could not do what we do without the work of all of you. This is OUR ministry, you are an important part of it.
My hope for you is that you may never loose the magic of Christmas. May this feeling of generosity that this season brings continue to grow in us throughout the year. In the busyness of December, may you never forget the reason we celebrate. Remember to go back to the Nativity.
On behalf of the members at Bdecan Presbyterian Church, and the Bdecan Ministry Team,
We want to wish all of you, and your families a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
Christmas Blessings to you all,
Youth and Outreach Coordinator
Bdecan Presbyterian Church
The past few weeks, my personal devotions have been focused on the story of David and Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel chapter 9. I encourage you to read that whole chapter to see the full story. David had lost King Saul, and his best friend Jonathan a few chapters before. David is now the king of all Israel. He is probably busy with many different things. Still, he decides to spend time trying to see if anyone is left in the house of Saul that he could show kindness to for Jonathan's sake. We only hear of 1 son of Jonathan remaining, Mephibosheth.
Now, to me he doesn’t look that special. One of the few things we know about him is that he is lame in both legs, so cannot get around on his own. We don’t know if he has any family, besides a son mentioned later in chapter nine. I see, Mephibosheth as ordinary. Trying to live a quiet life, out of the spotlight. He probably lost his chance to become king when his legs became lame. A guy who is struggling just to get by.
I imagine him trying to stay hidden from King David. If you remember, Saul got very jealous, angry, and afraid of David later in life. A few times, King Saul tried to kill him. My guess is that Mephibosheth knows the history of David and his Grandfather Saul. He is brought before King, waiting nervously to see what David will do. Can you even imagine the fear Mephibosheth must be going through?
David said, “Mephibosheth!”[b] He answered, “I am your servant.” 7 David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” 8 He did obeisance and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I?”
As I said before, and as Mephibosheth admits here, he is not that important. There is nothing that David owes him, or his family. There is no reason for David to fear him trying to take control away. Why does David show all this kindness? He does it out of love. Out of love, and respect for his best friend Jonathan who was taken away from him much too soon. Not only does David restore to Mephibosheth all the land of his grandfather Saul, but he also invites him, and his son to eat at his table.
This is a table that is reserved for only the king’s family. In this gesture, David is pretty much adopting Mephibosheth and his son Micah into his own royal family. There is nothing he has done to deserve this. It’s because David chooses to show him kindness. Micah and him always ate at David’s table from then on.
This story reminds me so much of another king, and another table. This table, a Heavenly one. And the King? He is the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. He has the table set, the banquet is ready. He is waiting for the guests to arrive. If God symbolizes King David in this story, then we symbolize Mephibosheth. Maybe we’re not lame in both legs, but we are beaten down, worn out, damaged by our sin. Like Mephibosheth, we feel unworthy to be in God’s presence. But like King David, God loves us enough to look past that. God comes, cleans us off, so we can be with him. We can never be good enough on our own. Because of God’s love for us, we are invited to sit at the table of the King.
It would be easy to stop here, and leave everyone happy and comfortable, but this is not the end. This table, God’s table is not just meant for the few people in this world who look and act like we do. It is not a table meant for just those who agree with us. No, God’s table is meant for ALL people. Not everyone will accept His invitation, but everyone is invited.
We live in a world where it is easy to fear what we don’t understand. We hear rumors about people different than we are. Instead of taking some time, and inviting them into conversation, some become afraid, and treat them like they don’t exist. I believe that all that these people want is for their voices to be heard. To be able to defend what they believe. To be in conversation about how we are the same, before discussing our differences. To have a place at the table. It seems that many times, that the voices I don't agree with, become silent to me.
I started at Bdecan over 5 ½ years ago. I still remember attending a service here the day before I started. After the service, we had a potluck meal (as we do every Sunday). Once the kids got done eating, they all left the fellowship room. As I finished up, I thought I would go and see what they were up to. They were all playing in the sanctuary. Watching them thoughts began filling my head. I was a middle aged white guy in a congregation of Native American kids. I looked very different than they did. Would these kids listen to me? Would they respect me? Would they accept me into this community? I soon found that I had nothing to worry about. As I entered the sanctuary, the kids were absolutely all over me. They wanted to jump on me, hang on me, get hugs, just be with me. More than anything, they wanted someone who took time out of their day, to be with them. Over the years, I have grown to love this community, and the people here, and be loved by them.
Through your support of Bdecan, you have allowed us to invite many children to Christ’ table. Some of the kids, youth, and families that are served here, may not feel welcomed to God’s table, without us. Because of you, we can provide a safe place for these kids, away from the tough realities that some of them live in. We provide a meal for them, a meal they some may not ordinarily get. We give them a chance to play, to create, to just be kids. We let them know that they are accepted, important, and that they belong, just the way they are. Most of all, we share with them time and time again that they are loved, and nothing can ever change that. In a world where many seem to still not be heard, I am so blessed to be where I am.
There are many others out in the world who are not as lucky as this. People who don’t have a place, and who don’t have a voice. People who are wondering where their next meal is going to come from. As we enter this time of Thanksgiving and leading up to the birthday of our Lord and Savior in December, I want you to think about this question. Who are you inviting to the table this Holiday season? it's more than just a physical table.
Who are you inviting into conversation? Who will you invite to share their story with you, maybe for the first time? It’s more about just inviting our close friends, and people who agree with us. It’s about inviting the otherwise uninvited. It's about inviting the least of these!
This fall, the kids at Bdecan have been focusing on the story of Moses in our KICK and Sunday School classes. We’ve talked about Moses leaving his life of royalty behind, and escaping to the wilderness, running away from his problems. Although he was trying to hide, God found Moses in the wilderness and called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Finally, out of excuses, Moses reluctantly agrees. He went to Pharaoh time after time, asking him to let the Israelites go and worship God. Each time, time Pharaoh said no, and the plagues followed. When they finally get the okay, God shows the Israelites the path to the Red Sea. At the last moment, we see God separate the Red Sea for the Israelites can cross but drowning the Egyptians. Over and over again in the book of Exodus, we see God providing for His people.
Now, the Israelites in the middle of the wilderness, complaining about not having food.
You would think that after all that they had seen, they would trust that God would provide for them. Nope! Instead they complain to Moses “Why did you bring us here? It would be better for us to be slaves back in Egypt”
God hears their cries and provides them quail in the evening. In the morning, after the dew lifted, there were flakes on the ground, a bread like substance, called Manna. God tested them, telling them to only gather enough manna for their household for that day.
Exodus 16 tells us,
“18 But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.”
No matter if they gathered much, or little, none was wasted, and everyone had enough. This passage shows that even with their grumbling and bad attitudes, God still provided for the Israelites. There were those who got greedy and did not trust that God would provide it again the next day. They saved their Manna, and it spoiled overnight. God provided us just what they needed, just when they needed it.
God still provides for his people.
Again and again in the ministry at Bdecan, I see God providing. I talk to our ministry team leader Donna most weeks over a conference call. Sometimes I will share a crazy idea, or she will share one with me. Both of us wonder, is this going to work? Is it too crazy? Are we too out of the box? Are we pushing the envelope too much? It amazes me that every idea we share with our supporters, there are individuals, congregations, and groups that step up to the plate and say they support what we are doing. For every request we make, and God brings someone or some group that rises to meet the challenge.
In mid-September, we moved our KICK program to after school, something we did last spring. We give the kids a meal shortly after they arrive. Our second week, we made walking tacos (taco’s in a bag). It was simple, meat, lettuce, cheese, sauce. Most of the kids were eating outside. One was eating alone inside. I sat by for a while. He had about 3 walking tacos in total. I joked with him about how hungry he was, and we were both laughing. He shared with me that he had barely anything for lunch that day.
This showed me the importance of the program that we have.
It is about providing these kids a place to play, and to create. Giving these kids meals, that some may not receive outside of our program. It’s about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with them every single week. Most importantly, it is providing these kids with a safe place, where they can feel the love of God, and just be kids. God provides for this ministry, so that we can go out and provide what is needed for these kids, for this community.
God has provided and continues to provide for every single one of our needs.
It is so amazing to look back at our history, and to see how God has brought our ministry to where it is. God provides. Not always how we expect it, but God provides every single time. Just like God provided for the Israelites, God provides for us.
May you go to God, trusting that he will provide for every single need you have.
His love for us endures forever.
Youth and Outreach Coordinator
Bdecan Presbyterian Church
My name is Joe Obermeyer. I am the Youth and Outreach Coordinator at Bdecan Presbyterian Church.