Friday, August 8, 2014

Connected





My journey at First Baptist started a few years ago. I attended a church in Stayton for twenty years, but due to my health, I needed to go to a church that was closer to home. The one I chose was First Baptist.  I had a few concerns about attending:  Is the teaching rooted in the Word of God?  Is it a praying church? Is it a church that is too big? (Would I meet people? Would I be invisible? Would I be accepted? Would I make friends?)



My first Sunday was amazing.  I attended the first service and heard the Word of God taught.  Pastor Mark was challenging and convicting.  What a blessing to hear a pastor that is not afraid to say the hard things along with the good things.  I do enjoy his teaching but it doesn't always feel good.  After all, sometimes growth hurts.



I went to the CLC and they had a coffee shop!  Coffee was not one of my concerns but it sure was a nice bonus.  To top it off, I was a given a coupon for a free latte.  Did I mention I sort of like lattes?  My favorite is sugar free, non-fat vanilla latte, just in case you wanted to know.



After coffee, my friend took to me to the Overcomer's Community Group.  This is a class just for women. There were single ladies, older ladies, widows, young ladies, and married ladies. What an amazing group of women.  I immediately was welcomed and felt totally accepted.  The teaching was very good and I knew I would grow.  This group of ladies knew about the power of prayer.  I knew I had found my new church home.



Being part of the Overcomers community group has been an incredible experience.  They take care and support each other spiritually and physically. Seeking God and growing spiritually is the focus in the class. There are new believers who are just starting their walk with the Lord.  There are believers who have walked with the Lord for many years.  There are those seeking.  All are welcomed and accepted. The group prays for each other and God answers.  We have seen such miraculous answers to prayer. 



Overcomers has made me feel connected to a group of wonderful ladies.  They have become like family.  We have times of fellowship outside of class.  There is a retreat once a year, monthly game days, outings to different places, parties, and going out to eat almost every Sunday afternoon. Talk about fun! These ladies know all about it. Our times together always include lots of laughter. You never know what will happen when we get together.



I am so thankful that God led me to Overcomers.  It has greatly enriched my life.  It has connected me to an incredible group of women and has connected me to the church as a whole.  It has been such an impact on my life.  Now a few years later, I am the leader of this wonderful group.  How God has blessed me! I truly love this group of women.

--Teresa Blount

 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Retreating with JESUS


Why do I go on retreats? I go on retreats to build a stronger relationship with Jesus. It helps me to see that there is greater good in everybody. Retreats help me to have an impact on my friends and family. They also help me to make friends and encourage them, especially when it’s someone new. Picture yourself as that boy or girl who came to the retreat, but didn’t know anybody or what was going on. I would feel like a stranger. Even though sometimes it’s hard to greet new people because it might get awkward, it’s important to do more than just say “Hi!” We want to make them feel like they belong just like the way Jesus invites us to know Him better.



The most important reason is to hear the Message of Jesus being taught by an amazing Youth Pastor. I learn things like, right at this time and this moment Jesus is celebrating with you and is proud of the commitment you have made to yourself and Him. He is making us His disciples because He wants us to focus on following His path. The cool thing is that we can trust Him with our safety, guidance, and the providence we need. This is amazing because He has made each one of us uniquely so we can do different things. He has given us the ability to do them. He definitely did not make a mistake when He created you. He made us for a purpose that is understandable. We should not be ashamed to walk around and show our beautiful personality traits that He’s given us. He did all this for us because He loves us all.



We also do service projects at retreats and they help me realize that there is a bigger picture when you’re doing the work. The big picture is to glorify the one true King. I love the teamwork when everybody is willing to step up and participate. One of the things I see on everybody’s faces is their smiles. They’re saying, “Jesus, I am here to do the work you have asked me to do with a grateful attitude!” With more people the work is done easy and fast.



I go on retreats so I can tell my story. I also go to inspire the people around me. Jesus wants me to show my true identity to show I can do anything with His help. I just have to believe that I am in good hands. One last reason why I go is because I want to shine for God and others! So then they can shine the Light of Jesus everywhere they go. I know I can do this because with God all things are possible.        

----Rebekah Patterson, 9th Grade

Thursday, June 19, 2014

AWANA Impact


Every year in June, I find myself in the bittersweet season of AWANA. It’s such a relief to be able to relax after club is over for the year, but at the same time I miss it. There’s no better way to spend a Wednesday night than watching some amazing volunteers work with the great kids that come week after week.



As you learn at every AWANA training, AWANA is built on three things. First and foremost is the Gospel, followed by Scripture memorization and fun! This year it has been amazing to see these 3 elements play out in our own club.

The Gospel: There was the Sparky (K-2nd grades) who, despite not attending a church, has come for almost two years and recently accepted Jesus as his Savior! There was the T&T (3rd-5th grades) clubber, who was invited by a school friend, and believed in Jesus after attending for just two weeks! These are just two stories. Throughout this year, we have seen child after child believe that Christ died for their sins.



Scripture Memorization: I thought about adding up the number of verses learned this past year and quickly realized the number is far too large to calculate. Let’s just say it is in the thousands. Each week parents, volunteers and kids work together to instill God’s Word into the hearts of every clubber. Through AWANA, kids are being discipled and their minds are being transformed by God’s Word instead of being conformed to this world.



Fun: This is what brings many of the kids (and volunteers) back each week. Walking through the various clubs and watching the kids enjoy the night is such a blessing to me personally. Seeing the Cubbies (3 and 4 year olds) faces light up when Cubbie Bear pops up from behind the screen during puppet time is priceless. It’s great getting to watch the Sparks in the Reward Room making crafts or playing with Legos after finishing their sections. Seeing the sweat dripping off the foreheads of T&Ters (and often their leaders) as they walk out of the Gym after game time is awesome.



We are blessed at Salem First Baptist to have great people working in AWANA and every year and I love getting to serve with them. AWANA could not happen every week without these fantastic volunteers who are committed to coming to club every week to serve. I know that it is not always easy and that they go home tired each week, but their commitment to the kids and to serving where God has called them brings them back each week. I know that they are making an impact that will last far beyond this year of club and that there are many, many faces that we will see in Heaven because of their ministry in AWANA.



--Jamie Brulotte, AWANA Commander

 

                            First Baptist website: www.fbcsalem.org