Author Archives: Las Vegas Team

Viva La Verve!

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.

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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


Las Vegas Verve-April 2016 / Day 4

Our last day was filled with lots of reflection. Looking back over our trip and the time we had here in Las Vegas.

Before we left on Sunday, we got up early in the morning to run to the grocery to get the supplies we needed to fill the hospitality room with food and drinks for the volunteers at Verve. We finished off some cleaning at the facility and jumped straight into volunteering. Some of us got to attend the first service while others served. We rotated so that the remaining teammates could attend one of the later services. It was such a blessing to again be poured into by the Verve family.

Looking back on the trip, we were all encouraged by not only the amount of serving we were able to do in our time here, but truly in the servant hearts of those at Verve. We each felt poured into and spurred to increase not only the amount of service in our lives, but also the intentionality of it. Not wasting a moment, but using it to be more and more eternally focused. Taking what we have learned and seen back to Indiana.

While Traders Point and Verve may be very different churches, both are on mission seeking to bring the lost to Jesus. Both churches desire to make disciples. Both ultimately want to make much of Christ’s name. Being a part of this mission trip has not only been influential on us spiritually but has impacted us in such a way that we will live more on mission at home, where we work, live and play.

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Las Vegas Verve-April 2016 / Day 3

Today was all about guerilla love. In short, loving on others in a personal and up close way or relationship. We set out with that being our intent, it was just a matter of how.

We had several organizations turn us down when we asked to serve them, or, “bless their socks off” because of various corporate sanctions and many places simply being closed on the weekends. It was without a doubt a hurdle our team had come across. Not only were many places turning us away, there were many that we couldn’t even get into contact with.

After being poured into by Ryan, the executive pastor at Verve, about how to love others well, we were reenergized and decided to simply go to a local fire department, as we couldn’t even find its number to call online. Julia and Megan went in to speak with the team and we finally got a. “YES!”.

We collaborated together on the best way to serve this local fire department that is constantly serving others and decided on a combination of games, snacks and knickknacks.

We delivered the gifts to the fire department and all of the team members there were blown away. They were beyond grateful and we were able to get a tour of the facility and their equipment. Little did they know, we were blown away by them as well. They were extremely friendly and welcoming, but also such a tight knit team.

We closed out our day by having dinner with a Verve family. We were again blessed by those at Verve and encouraged by them as well. It was an evening filled with lots of laughter, food and fellowship. To say the least, it was a great way to end our day.

 

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Prayer Requests:

Prayer for Ryan and his family as his wife’s parents move to Las Vegas.

Prayer for the fireman who received the gifts of the guerilla love project. That they may ask why we did what we did and ultimately see Christ.

Prayer for those who received invite cards during this trip.

Prayer for the families that have hosted us for dinner as they raise their families in the Las Vegas culture.


Las Vegas Verve-April 2016 / Day 2

Highlights from Day 2

Each morning before we leave, we write a thank you note to our housekeeper and leave it on the bed for them. We have been getting some sweet replies from them.

We handed out 40 dozen boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts to local businesses with an invite card to the Verve attached to each one. It was so fun to be able to bless people with no strings attached. Two of us walked in to Ken’s Food Inc. (think:  salad dressing and BBQ sauce) to deliver donuts. The receptionist received us so warmly and was excited to take 10 dozen boxes back to the workers. She said their 160 employees would appreciate them. She then gave us an entire bottle of Ken’s salad dressing and some BBQ sauce as a souvenir, which we excitedly hoisted in the air as we walked back toward the team sitting in the van cheering us on. We were seriously having so much fun seeing the reactions of the people when we came in with free donuts for them. Priceless.

After handing out donuts, we ate lunch together and brainstormed our upcoming Guerilla Lover Project. The project will be our opportunity to target a specific group of people to lavish blessings on them. We were chasing a lot of dead ends and getting a lot of closed doors, which was honestly a bit frustrating, but God had an awesome plan already worked out for us!

At Verve, Jake (a homegrown Hoosier) and Ryan helped us learn a little bit more about our personality types and how they work together. We took a personality assessment before the trip, and they used our test results to do fun and interactive activities to demonstrate to us our personality traits in action.

After the awesome seminar, we helped Carla with a few building projects at the church. She oversees Verve’s facilities, and she shared with us that she originally came to Verve because of an invite card when her husband was a non-believer. He now helps lead worship at the Verve, and the two play such vital roles at the church. We prayed for Carla and her family, and she showed us how labor-intensive work like cleaning windows, washing chairs and doors and vacuuming can be acts of worship if you do them with a prayerful heart acknowledging all the people you can impact with your work. It was such a great lesson to learn.

We went to dinner at the Bennett home with Lisa and Jeff Bennett. Jeff and Lisa moved to Las Vegas originally for Jeff to work at the Verve as executive pastor. He and his wife shared their histories with us and how God has worked through all the details of their lives. They also showed us a lot of wisdom and fielded all of our questions about church planting, life in Las Vegas and some of the difficulties they have had. We appreciate their hospitality, openness and complete transparency and have loved getting to know them. Lisa also gave us great ideas for our Guerilla Lover project. More to come…

Then we finally explored the Las Vegas strip a bit at the end of the evening. It was an eye-opening experience, and we got to hand out some invite cards for the Verve. It was fun to walk around and take in some of the sights, but since we were on a mission trip we had quite a different perspective than if we had been on a vacation. The brokenness of Las Vegas is so on display, and people who live here need to hear about Jesus. We are so excited to be serving the Verve to help them seek and save the lost in Vegas.

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How We Can Pray for the Verve

Pray for God’s provision for Carla and her family.

Pray for the invite cards that we’ve handed out that they would plant a seed and people would come to the Verve because of them now or in the future.


Las Vegas Verve-April 2016

Highlights from Day 1

The staff at the Verve welcomed us with cheering, high fives and music. They are excited to have some help in seeking and saving the lost in Las Vegas.

Our team listened to Verve pastor Vince Antonucci speak about our purpose as Christians and how we are to “lead with love” when on mission during the “Question Zero” seminar.

We helped set up the building for a youth program, deep cleaned the kids’ ministry rooms and toys and worked on a painting project to serve the Verve. We were excited to learn that 2 of the 5 staff members at Verve are from Indiana, and we made some awesome connections with them.

Our team handed out Verve invite cards in a Vegas suburb. We had some encouraging interactions with some of the residents and were able to share about Verve.

At the end of the day, we sat down as a team to share a meal together and debrief. We had some amazing sharing time about how God is already working in our lives and through this trip.image imageimageimageimage

How We Can Pray for Verve

Pray for financial provision for the Verve staff as they raise money and work other jobs to help support their ministry.

Pray that new leaders would come to Verve and be raised up in the congregation.

Pray for wisdom and discernment for lead pastor Vince Antonucci.


Day 3 Las Vegas: Lead With Love!!

We started our day hearing an outstanding message from Vince Antonucci, Verve’s pastor on leading with love. His message was exactly what I needed to hear, and hit on some excellent things that really helped change my perspective. He mentioned that Christians have the tendency to get lost and loose our purpose & mission. Our mission is to help lost people get home. I know what it is like loosing my son, he ran out the front door and I couldn’t find him anywhere running up and down the streets and screaming his name I was so terrified I couldn’t imagine life without him. After calling the police in a panic, less than 5 min later I found him a few houses down. Wow, was I so glad. I wrapped him in my arms and that feeling of love I had, I’ll never forget. That’s nothing compared to the love God has for us. He just wants us to find our way home no matter our past, or troubles we face. His love is unconditional. 
Vince touched on a great point that the main reason people don’t share the word of God is FEAR. Fear of what others will think or how they will react. But everyone needs love & truth. You can’t convince people of truth but you can love them. He mentioned leading with love opens people up and leading with truth shuts them down. But love opens ears and hearts. So much so that you may not even need to get to truth. They may find it on their own. It’s Gods kindness that leads us to repent. Love makes people want to change and gives them security. Gods goal is not to get you to stop sinning, it’s for you to come home and experience his love. His love will change you. We get to be a part of Gods mission to help others come to know God. We get to be the answer to Gods prayer and make his mission our mission to seek & find lost people. 
         
After the message we then went out to deliver 30 dozen donuts to the local businesses around the church to thank them for all the hard work they do. They were in shock that we did that. In fact the Auto Zone guy gave me a hug and yelled “hey everyone they brought donuts.” Later, one guy from he thanked us again when we were walking by. Another example was the Vet office. They said this was the best thing that has happened to them all day. And lastly was a boutique where she thought we were selling her something. She said, “no thanks” and we insisted that it was a free, no strings attached gift to say thanks for all your hard work in the community from the church. She was so grateful, she ran out later and thanked us again and asked for more invites to put out in her shop for others when they come in. It’s the little things that brighten up someone’s day.    

    
       

After lunch we went back to local neighborhoods to hand out more invite cards. While out, our group ran into a family who got an invite card years ago and started attending Verve because of them. How incredible. What a true testimony of what these invite cards can do and what an impact we can leave on the city.

  
After invite cards we headed to dinner at a Verve family’s house. This family moved to Vegas 3 years ago, far away from friends and family and their comfort zone. They have had to overcome a number of challenges being surrounded by so many unbelievers, having to listen to many sad stories and extend love and grace to everyone. The wife expressed to us the challenges of raising two young girls here and having to explain very hard situations to them at an early age. They’ve learned that sometimes not knowing what to say is okay and to just be. I was blown away by her faith and trust in God to walk them down the correct path. 
After dinner we went back out on the Las Vegas Strip to pass out more invite cards. It was so awesome seeing everyone break out of their shell more and more. To witness team members Bud & Marilyn praying for the homeless and showing them love and grace was amazing. 
   


   
These last 3 days have been extremely eye opening. I can not wait to get home and start being on mission for God locally in the neighborhood and sharing love with everyone I come into contact with. It’s those touches, seeds & love that will help transform their hearts, and help bring them closer to their Father who desperately is awaiting their return. 
 


Day 2 Las Vegas Mission trip: Love Unconditionally, Love Consistently! 

Our mission today: love unconditionally, love consistently. We started at a local school that Verve partners with that primarily serves children and families with many needs beyond basic education. The administrators, teachers, and staff have the tough job of fulfilling all of these needs, which can be exhausting. So we wanted to love on them, encourage them, and help them continue to be a light for the children and families they serve. We decorated the teachers lounge with fun candy, caramel apples, cookies, and build your own fall trail mix. We also wrote personal notes to all 87 staff members at the school.   

The highlight of our time was the opportunity to personally deliver these personal cards and small gifts to the teachers.   

The reaction they had was priceless. There were three stories that stood out. 

1) The teacher that said, “people like this, and things like this, make me almost want to go back to church.”

2) The teacher that told one of our team members that she felt like God sent her, asked her to pray with her, and told our team member “I’ve been looking like for a church like Verve”. 

3) The substitute teacher that told us that it was her mission to love on the children and teach them, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  

What confirmation for our team, that we were right where we needed to be and that we were loving unconditionally and loving consistently, so the teachers can be encouraged to continue having an impact and being a light to the children they teach. 

I’m sure every person today can look back and say they were impacted in one way by a teacher when they were in school. I know I carry a part of the impact my teachers gave to me today.

The second part of the day was spent cleaning the Verve church top to bottom and setting up for service. It was a lot of work and everyone did their part. Serving the team at Verve gives them a break and helps them to be refreshed so they can continue serving the Verve family. 
   

  


After an extraordinary clean church we headed to dinner provided by a Verve member family; In their home.  Such a caring and giving family, to have opened their home to serve us. Their story of listening to God guide them in their walk is a true testimony. 

After dinner a few of us headed back out to the strip to pass out more invite cards and Aaron was offered anything drugs he wanted. Aaron handed him a invite card they talked for 3 min or so, and Aaron prayed for his mom who was just diagnosed with cancer and I could see a transformation happen in the guys eyes. One of gratitude like no one has ever done that for him before. It’s that caring act of nature that will leave a impact. This is by far the perfect place to step out of your comfort zone, although there is a tension we must accept between grace and truth. It’s hard to accept the tension that is there but we must learn to deal with it and show infinite grace while sharing truth. For me it’s fear that keeps me from sharing the word. Not knowing how someone will respond. Scared they will question me or I wouldn’t know what to say. But Jenny telling me that it’s ok to not know what to say, to just be yourself encourages me to continue to step out on faith. I am continually reminded that you don’t need to be extraordinary to do the ordinary every day things by showing love and grace to everyone around you.    

 Our strategy has been to love unconditionally and consistently, but others sharing Gods message on the strip are quite different. One example we saw was people preaching about God in the street with big signs and loud speakers telling them to repent for their sins now or forever be banned to hell. I believe that is the wrong way to share God’s word because of the lack of love being shared, causing people to build up a wall to God’s love. 

  

We have found our approach of planting seeds by handing invite cards out to the locals and showing Guerilla love to schools and local businesses lends to people being warm, open and grateful; many saying thank you with a smile. And its that love and seed planting that will grow so much quicker than any loud speaker ever could.

   

Being in Las Vegas on the strip you see some things. It is hard not to judge, question or wonder why people choose to do the things they do. But you can’t judge, you never know what they are going through and why they are doing what they are doing. Each and every person has a story and feels lost at times. Sometimes so lost that they never could ever believe God could love them. I feel that is the mission of Verve, to help those who are lost feel welcomed and to share with them that no matter what sin God will still love them and has always loved them.    

 What a wonderful day. Can’t wait to serve more tomorrow and see what God has in store for us.