It’s Marvelous!

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.

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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.

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Go Ape!

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?!

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Splagna

“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.

  • Las Vegas has a 200% higher alcohol consumption than anywhere else
  • Las Vegas has the highest suicide rate in the nation
  • Las Vegas has the highest high school drop out rate in the nation
  • 10,000 strippers call Las Vegas home
  • Human trafficking is rampant

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.

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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  ❤️

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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!

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Vegas Strong

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


One Word

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

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Day 2 and Day 3 – Feed My Sheep

Monday morning the group traveled to Pangani where Missions of Hope International (MOHI) is located. After hearing about the MOHI history the group along with the MOHI social workers was able to walk around the neighborhood and make a few home visits. Once returning to MOHI we toured their vast complex and learned about the programs that are available to the students and community members; including the school and resource center, a laboratory for disease testing, dentist office, doctors office, and pharmacy. The services at the dentist’s and doctor’s offices are offered to the students at no cost and to the entire community for a nominal fee.

“Today we walked in the slums of the Mathare Valley. We made a house visit. The home was a small one room, tin shack with the entry way covered with a blanket for privacy.  In this small hone lived a mother with her 7 children. Lord, help me to never complain again.” – Pam

“Thank God for the vision and mission of Missions of Hope in the Mathare Valley. I love little children and today witnessed how MOHI is bringing hope to the children of the Mathare slums. In spite of their circumstances they were happy and excited to get their pictures taken and to entertain us with songs” – Ruth

“During our home visit, it was surprising to me how worried Grace was to have everything in order. We weren’t allowed in until everything was put in order and she cleaned. Even with the little she had, she was very proud of it.” – Sara

“I never feel more loved by those who are not my family than when I’m with my Kenyan “family”. They are so joyful and have so much love to give and they give it freely and beautifully.” – Jennifer

“Today was an incredible day. As we walked the neighborhood in Mathare Valley, I was amazed at the changes that have occurred since I was here in 2009. The streets are cleaner and the piles of trash are fewer than I remember. I felt encouraged that the work of Missions of Hope and supporting churches is making a difference for lots of people. The one thing that wasn’t different was the happy faces of all the little kids.” – Donna

“The longer I’m here the more I’m starting to find that these beautiful people have far more to teach me than I could ever teach them. Our lives aren’t about the material things we have but about the freedom we have in Christ.”- Chloe

It was a blessing to be able to spend time with some of the kids today. I was in a second grade classroom that sang us a song that I recognized- it is one that we also sing in the TPCC kids ministry wiggle worship. I was able to sing and dance along with the kids and felt so connected through that.” – Jessica

“My last time in Nairobi was 2015. Since 2015 so many ideas have been implemented: a new skills center (trade school); a welding training for men; more schools opened outside of Nairobi, etc. There are now 20 schools educating 15,000 students. Above all , the bible is being translated into a new language.” – Tamie

Tuesday was the first day the group worked at the Bondeni School in the Mathare Valley. After taking a tour of the new Bondeni School building, many members of the team went on a prayer walk in the neighborhood with the MOHI social workers. The group walked through the entire neighborhood, which hasn’t been done before by any mission group, because of violence and cleanliness. The group prayed with parents of some of the students about issues of the community including; violence, alcohol abuse, unemployment, domestic violence, and business prosperity.

While the majority of the team was on a prayer walk, Jennifer and Jessica were able to make home visits and provide therapy for disabled young adults and show them the love of Christ.

After lunch, many members of the team met with the Bondeni children they sponsor. Some team members began to sponsor children long before they first visited Kenya. The sponsor money ensures the child will be able to attend a MOHI school, receive 2 meals a day, and learn the love of Christ. Greater than 75% of the children rely on sponsorship money to be able to attend a MOHI school.

Before the group left the Bondeni School for the day we were able to go back into the community and do home visits again with the MOHI social workers. The purpose of the home visits was to tell identified people about the good news of Jesus Christ. The two groups, were able to visit 5 homes and bring 3 people to Christ.

 


Day 1 – Faith is Active

The September 2017 Kenya team landed at the Nairobi airport late last night after a long but uneventful trip from Indiana to Kenya. We met up with hosts from MOHI and after an adventurous bus ride and warm welcome from Gracehouse Resort the team settled into their rooms for some much needed sleep.

Today is Sunday so the team attended an inspirational church service at the MOHI Church in Bondeni. The service opened with prayer from both our team leader, Jim, and the local church minister, Pastor Stephen.  Pastor Stephen, graciously prayed for the United States and the people of Texas and Florida. Jim was then blessed to be asked to pray for Kenya. The team was overtaken by the holy spirit when surrounded by the powerful and joyful worship of the Kenyan people. Pastor Stephen taught a compassionate message today out of 1 Thessalonians 1, speaking words of encouragement to the congregation. Pastor Stephen communicated Gods words of hope and love to his people and to our team. It was observed that while the people in this area live in such extreme poverty, they find church is a refuge and Jesus as their hope.

After church the team was able to enjoy a beautiful lunch outside at the Gracehouse, reflected on the beauty of Kenya and how today was the perfect way to begin the trip. In preparation for the week’s journey, the group discussed the day’s blessings and prepared the donated items to be dispersed and used when the team gets to interact with the people of the Mathare Valley.