We made it home!
We are grateful. We are changed. #wearetpcc
Who goes on a mission trip and gets a tattoo? Seriously.
Cindy and Jen got small (yes DAD… small!) crosses on their wrists and Tyler got a cool HE > i tatoo. This could be a first Traders Point.
There are no words for the emotions people are feeling for the victims and their families of this terrible tragedy. Memorials were popping up in a few different places, but one of the most impactful memorials was when the carpenter from Illinois, Greg Zanis, drove across the country to put out 58 crosses to honor those killed in the shooting. (He also did this for the Orlando nightclub shooting, Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings).
As the weekend went on, these crosses were adorned with flowers (almost as tall as the top of the cross itself) candles, signs, messages, photos, and personal mementos to each individual. There was a steady line for hours and hours as people came to pay their respects.
Our team wanted to see the crosses. We had no idea it would turn into such an emotional evening. You see, all weekend, we had been watching Jeff McClintic (an amazing man of God on the trip with us) just walk right up to people and engage them. He would talk with them, pray with them, and just love on them….The security officer at Wal-Mart, a gal at McDonalds and her atheist son in the car, 2 people fighting outside a tattoo shop, and a man at one of the memorials… just to name a few. Oh and by the way, he actually got Kim, the lady from McDonalds to attend Verve AND her son was also willing to talk to Jeff. WHAT?!?!! Jeff inspired us all. While at the crosses, several of us had the opportunity to talk and pray with prople. It was truly transformational. There was a small tent with a group of people signing praise songs. The entire experience was emotional and moving. Thank you Jeff for your boldness for Jesus. Thank you.
Our very own Aaron Hoover made a sign that said Need a hug? Me too. At one point he had line waiting for hugs. People are searching for hope and healing.
He was a great leader for the entire trip and showed so much compassion for those hurting in Las Vegas. Aaron Hoover is the real deal…. following after the Real Deal.
VERVE means passionate vigor and enthusiasm. This is the perfect name for this church. They live it. They love it. They well, Verve. The stories and lives we encountered were transformed by our Almighty God. Verve is seeking the unchurched and changing lives everyday.
Sunday morning our team got to serve alongside Verve members for all of the services. We were able to assist the volunteers with coffee, kids ministry, volunteer breakfast, communion, and cleaning the church afterward. It was such a blessing to serve in this way.
This particular Sunday, Verve began a new series called Vegas Strong which wrestles with the idea of faith and searches for hope in the midst of tragedy. Vince’s sermon was spot on. Some questions he thought people might be wrestling with:
The Lord is our refuge and strength, and ever- present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear. Psalm 46: 1-2
We need to trust God. We need to develop an accurate picture of who He is when we have a clear head. (John 14: 7-10) If you get to know Jesus— really know Him— you will know that He is powerful, inspirational, a forgiver, healer, compassionate, and he is so madly in love with us. And if God is like that, then I can trust him. And you can trust Him too. Even in the midst of tough times when things don’t make sense.
Vince and the worship team were so encouraging to the congregation, and our prayer is that many of the first timers will return for the remainder of the series and that their hearts felt something that will make them want to return again and again to pursue Jesus. Right now it might feel Las Vegas is stuck on “Friday…” but you hang on… because SUNDAY IS COMING!!!
Verve is loving God and loving people… and turning Las Vegas upside down. #VerveStrong
The Verve Family
While in Vegas, we have been able to spend time with a few of Verve families. First, Mark and Jana Kamp. They hosted our team…. and we all can probably say we never been to a dinner like this before! First impression: they told us where the “Batroom” was. Wait… you mean the bathroom? Nope.
You heard me right folks…. the BAT-ROOM! They have a bathroom decorated in all Batman. You know this is going to be fun if there is a Batman bathroom. Only in Vegas right? Marvelous Mark is a former Vegas entertainer (1980’s Show) and they also invited Darren, the Toastmasters world champion, and another friend Tony that dresses way cooler than all of us. They shared their Verve stories, and how this church is changing lives here in Las Vegas. They shared how grateful they were to have a missions team here to support them and spread the love of our Jesus. It was beautiful. It was unique. It was fun. It was intentional. We ended the night with karaoke and Marvelous Mark drumstick party favors. It was Vegas.
It’s a Block Party!
Vince shared with us that Verve had met with dozens of city leaders as they were preparing and planning to launch, and Vince asked one question- what can we do for Las Vegas? Overwhelmingly, he got one answer. Las Vegas needs a sense of community. So that’s just what Verve set out to do. They bought a bounce house, a popcorn machine, a snow cone machine, a cotton candy machine, some face paint, corn hole boards and said “Lets throw some block parties!”
Our missions team was able to help our trip coordinator, Karla and her husband Todd (and 3 pretty amazing cotton candy eating kiddos) throw a block party in her neighborhood. We were so thrilled to be there to help so she and her husband could solely focus on building relationships with their neighbors. We are so happy to report that many new relationships were formed and neighbors that live side-by-side on the same street for 30 years met for the first time. Success! Jesus is awesome.
Love is contagious.
Hands down one of the best parts of this trip thus far has been when the lead pastor of Verve, Vince poured into us with a Guerrilla Love seminar. What is guerrilla love? So glad you asked. It is based on the concept of guerrilla warfare- low intensity, surprise attacks, a creative, smart and intelligent ambush if you will. A LOVE AMBUSH!
But let’s face it, life is busy. We are running straight from work to the grocery store to soccer practice, and the list goes on. How do we keep the “Love Ambush” top of mind? We have to CHANGE! We have to change the way we think, look, feel, hear, and move.
THINK– We need to think of ourselves as Christ ambassadors. I am someone that God has called to love the world to Him.
LOOK– We need to change the way we look at the world. Many times we think of others being here to serve us… meaning the server at your favorite restaurant, the cashier, your garbage man. Have you ever thought about your garbage man? Probably not- until he missed your garbage that one week. Our garbage men are children of God! We need to change the way we look at people.
FEEL– We need to feel sick. We need to feel compassion for this hurting world, and God’s children. Over and over Jesus feels compassion and heartache for his children. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11
HEAR– Today’s culture is all about getting revenge, justice, judgement, and fairness. Instead what would it look like if we imitated Jesus and showed grace?
MOVE– When we are feeling rushed and pressured for time, are we being the best ambassadors for Jesus? I know I’m not.
This week our team has been able to participate in a few Guerrilla Love projects.
Krispy Kreme Delivery
Our team got to deliver 60 dozen warm Krispy Kreme doughnuts to unsuspecting businesses around Las Vegas. As we delivered the doughnuts, some were suspicious, but delighted. Most were surprised and grateful that someone would do such a kind thing for nothing. We explained that we were from Verve Church and we were out and about loving people. Most of our encounters were brief, but we were still able to have some meaningful conversations.
One Krispy Kreme delivery was especially meaningful. We went to the Davis Funeral Home. This is the funeral Home that processed all but 3 of the victims from Sunday’s shooting. After the doughnut delivery, it was clear that this needed to be our guerrilla love project as well. We needed to go bigger. We needed to love these funeral home associates that have probably had one of the worst weeks in the history of like ever.
It has been so wonderful– the first responders, police officers, hospitals etc have all been overwhelmed with support this week. It is unimaginable to think that 50+ bodies will be coming through your doors in a weeks time. So the associates of the funeral home have been working around the clock. We thought it would be really nice to put together a basket full of gift cards along with handwritten notes on how much we appreciate them, love them, and are praying for them. Giftcards included things for them to get away- dinner, movies etc.
We have been so blessed to GUERRILLA LOVE people this week. How are you going to love ambush someone this week?!
“We have been here for you in the good times. Thank you for being here for us now.” This has become the new town slogan. We have seen this on several electronic billboards. While this city has come together in an incredible way over this horrific act- as Christians we know that what this city really needs is total transformation.
So many times throughout Jesus life, he spent time with unexpected people. If He were here today, Las Vegas would probably be a place he would come. After all, healthy people don’t need a doctor.
Jesus heart is broken for Las Vegas. Is yours? Is mine? Those are some extremely alarming statistics. From what we have seen thus far, Verve Church is ALL IN to reach people who are far from God. The word compassion in the original Greek language is SPLAGNA. In Matthew 9:36, Jesus has compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. We need to have some splagna for Las Vegas. When we hear these statistics, we should be on our knees. Here is our challenge! Las Vegas is the third most recognizable brand in the world behind Coke and Google. Whenever we hear the word Las Vegas- PRAY! Feel that splagna deep in your gut and move to action!
A few items we have done to come alongside Verve this week are:
Invitation Cards– this is a neat experience.
The way Verve tries to reach people is through postcards delivered in neighborhoods, to local shops etc. Our team passed out 3000-4000 cards this week! We all hopped in the van on 3 seperate occasions and went out to reach the neighborhoods. We had such positive response from this postcard. This one is a bit different than usual- it is focused on a VegasStrong vs the usual- “A church people who don’t like church.” A few of us replaced the cards we already saw on the doors or cars…. while 1/2 half off a haircut is a good deal- life in eternity is a much better deal ❤️
Building projects / Set up and tear down – Verve Church does an excellent job with their facility, but it was absolutely our pleasure to go in and release some of the volunteers from their normal duties. They had several programs This week – a 5/6 lock in, a support group help minister to the grieving, bible studies etc. We cleaned and organized their kitchen area, vacuumed, folded laundry, It felt so great to help their volunteers!
For those who have been to Las Vegas before, this feels different. This is not the Vegas you see on see on TV, or let the good times roll atmosphere you would expect. Vegas is quiet and somber.
When we arrived, our team started with a prayer journey and stopped at a few places around the city to pray. We began with a local park, and then stopped a few places along the Las Vegas strip. While at the park, Vince Antonucci, the Lead Pastor at Verve encouraged us to pray that God would show us His heart for Las Vegas and to see this city through His eyes. We are reminded of lyrics by Hillsong, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours, everything I am for your kingdom’s cause.”
As we journeyed from Mandalay Bay to the site of the memorial, We encountered a somber heavy feeling weighing on us. Although In the midst of that, we ran into so much kindness. We met a fireman from Chicago with Canines for Christ Ministry. He asked if he and his Dalmatian could join as we walked to the memorial for prayer. As we arrived at the memorial, dozens of people gathered to mourn, feel a Sense of community, pray and to show support. It was wonderful to see a few other local churches there… waiting for the moment when someone would need prayer, a smile, a hug, or just a bottle of water. Billy Graham’s chaplains were even there ready to spread Jesus’ love.
The Community has come together with the phrase Vegas Strong. We have seen it on billboards, office windows, and we even saw it in the process of being painted on the side of a neighborhood entranceway.
Verve Church typically has mission teams hand out invite cards to neighborhoods- this week those cards are more meaningful than ever. This card specifically addresses the tragedy, with an invitation indicating a Vegas Strong service on Sunday and Monday. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for this weekend! #VerveStrong
GRATEFUL. SAD. ANXIOUS. EXCITED. STOKED. HOPEFUL. EXPECTANT. EXCITED. STRESSED. READY. EXCITED.
As we prepared for the Las Vegas mission trip, Aaron Hoover began our time together each meeting asking us each “one word” to describe how we were feeling about the trip. Each meeting, the words ranged from “ANXIOUS” to “EXCITED” to “whoah!” We have felt so many different emotions throughout the time we have spent preparing.
As we woke on Monday morning, our hearts were broken. We were so SAD for the city of Las Vegas, for Verve, for the friends and family of the 59 lives lost, and the 500+ others that were injured. However, even in the midst of our sadness, we have seen Jesus. There have been so many stories of love, kindness and heroism… people risking their lives and shielding their loved ones from flying bullets. One gal even sat with a stranger for 4 hours so he didn’t die alone.
Jesus was there in the midst of the darkness. Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.” John 8:12
Satan is working hard to mess things up and STRESS out our team members. Jeff, an amazing witness for Jesus learned on the layover before arriving in Vegas that he contracted malaria from a previous mission trip. When we arrived in Las Vegas, he and his wife had to go to the ER to get medicine. The doctors wanted him to stay overnight… and while this wasn’t great news-Jesus is awesome… and Jeff learned that there were 6 victims of the shooting on his floor. He is planning to visit them, pray with them and be a light in their darkness.
We are EXPECTANT, and believe that Jesus is already at work and healing the hearts of Las Vegas. Our hearts are now GRATEFUL that we get to be part of this trip, and HOPEFUL we can help. We want to show Las Vegas the love of Jesus in a big way.
We are EXCITED to come alongside Verve to serve this week.
We are READY! We are STOKED! #wearetpcc
2 Corinthians 5:17-18,20
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! …and God has given us this task of reconciling people to him…So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
Usually when 12 women travel to Vegas for a long weekend it involves shopping, spa treatments and a show. All of those things are good and fun but this time we set them aside to partner with Verve church to share the love of Jesus. Verve is a church located on the Las Vegas Strip. It is church for those who don’t like church, for it is “stripping church and seeking life.”
As we prepared our hearts to serve in Las Vegas we used the acronym VEGAS.
V was for Verve and our first day was spent getting to know the staff and hear their stories. As they strive to make Jesus famous, they work long hours with few resources. To help the Verve community lighten their load for the day we helped Carla, one of their volunteers, clean the church. This is something she usually does on her own. We washed windows, mopped floors, and scrubbed toilets. Carla has a beautiful servant’s heart, and she taught us all how cleaning is an act of worship.
E was for encouraging and empowering. We were there to serve the staff of Verve but instead we found ourselves enriched by Vince, Ryan, Jacob, and Amy. They taught us about Guerrilla Love and how each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made to impact the world as the body of Christ.
G was for go. Our second day we served the Las Vegas Rescue Mission working alongside staff, residents and volunteers in the kitchen and thrift shop. Our highlight for the day was throwing a game night for the residents of the mission. We started the evening with a time of devotion and worship and ended our time with laughter and fellowship allowing the fun we all had to lift the weight of their circumstances.
A was for accountability. We each were assigned accountability partners for the trip and through our daily devotions, we challenged one another and shared what God has been teaching us along the way.
S was for selflessly serving God and others. Today, we are back at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission working in the kitchen and thrift store.
We will also be delivering donuts to businesses on the strip and passing out invites to Verve Church. Our trip will conclude with providing breakfast for the Verve Staff and volunteers on Sunday morning after which we ourselves will get filled up by attending their 9 am worship service.
This trip had been impactful for all of us as we have stepped out as Christ’s ambassadors. As we move, we are now more intentional of “moving at the speed of love” as we serve God and others. We know that walking with Christ at this pace and purpose will help us reach the 1.7 million people in Indianapolis who need the love of Jesus, because we all need the love of Jesus.
Viva La Verve!
Lori and Diana, October 2016 Vegas Mission Team