February 21, 2013

Feedback from Ministry Trip to Central Church (Waterloo, ON, Canada) – Feb 8-10, 2013

CITC has enjoyed a great partnership with Central Church in Waterloo Ontario over the past 6 years or so, initially thru Debs and my friendship with Fred & Katherine (the couple who lead the eldership team) but since then also thru relationships that Nate & Jamie and David & Kathy have made with the church and leaders. Both Central and CITC partner with the Eph-4 ministry team New Covenant Ministries International (see WHO ARE THESE GUYS for more info on NCMI).
Debs & I, David, and Nate & Jamie traveled there last weekend to minister in the church and help in various areas of need such as a college ministry, worship, leadership training and preaching at their Sunday gathering. But the greatest impact during ministry trips like this often comes across the dinner table sharing a meal or coffee. Relationship is the basis on which effective ministry and Kingdom building can take place. Below is some feedback from a few of the CITC team.
– Steve
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Debs:

Steve and I have been going to Waterloo for some time now and have often left feeling heart sore for Fred and Catherine as they have come up against their fair share of obstacles and have been discouraged. This time was different. The atmosphere was full of hope and vision for their future at Central Church. As the events of the weekend unfolded, it became clear that they are in a season of changing gears and being released into impact! I had the opportunity of going with Catherine to a gathering of pastors wives and women in ministry breakfast where I heard Catherine speak and share her powerful testimony of being healed from stage-4 cancer. She has a powerful ministry and is eager to be used by God in this area. I heard later from her that doors are opening more and more after years of waiting on God. On Sunday morning God broke in and His presence was thick as the church heard the word on our purpose in HIS kingdom and then as the church gathered around Fred and Catherine During the ministry time, God’s power was evident as people wept and cried out for more of God as a unified body with single purpose. We left so encouraged for our journey home! We felt full after a weekend ministering as friends with purpose – knowing God is at work.

Nate: 

Last weekend’s trip to Waterloo was a really great time of relationship and ministry with Central Church.  A few things that stood out to me:

1.) Our starting point was with established relationships — It was great to come into an environment that we already knew and people who we have built with before.  The relationships between our team and Central Church were obvious and genuine, and I feel this gave a “weight” and trust to the things taught, conversed, and ministered.  They are truly a “peer” church where it really feels like we are walking alongside each other.  The established relationships seem to pick up where they left off, and bring with them experiences and growth since we last partnered.

2.) The weekend was a team effort — It was great to have Steve teaching several times at the main meetings, but it was also great that each of us got to contribute in various ways and in ways we are gifted.  From the college-age group on Friday night, to the women’s lunch on Sat, to the Sat all-church gathering, to the worship team training on Sat pm, to the worship & teaching at the Sunday gathering — all of us — Steve, Debs, Dave, Jamie, and Nate — got to contribute in one-on-one and group settings and lead in areas of gifting and passion.  It is awesome to work in team and to see that outwork in practical ways with Central Church.

3.) There was evidence of growth and God’s work — Both in the sense that have seen growth and change since our previous times there, as well as in the sense that we saw response and people being built up while we were there.  There was a great relational sense of mutual encouragement and co-laboring.

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David:

I definitely enjoyed our weekend in Waterloo. Although the drive there was long 11.5hours, due to the snow storm, the atmosphere in the car was expectant, and we were all excited about being with this church again. It was my second trip there, and knowing some of the people and the leaders was quite helpful. Everything we did there as a team felt like we were partnering with the church. From the first night where Nate preached with the young adult group, to the sessions Steve did sat afternoon, to the worship training Saturday night.  It really did feel like building with Central Church. Sunday morning was so encouraging, worship felt like it was in a really good place with people very hungry for God.  The sermon and ministry was very well received and again felt like we were building n top of what they were doing. I noticed that the meeting place was very full, I would even say at capacity. I really look forward to our continued partnership with Waterloo, and think there may be a really special bond between our two churches into the future.

February 8, 2013

God Rescues (Brianna)

Thanks Brianna for sharing this great story of God’s protection (from Jan 20th)

—–

I want to share how God intervened for me in the midst of a frightening and difficult experience. I had lain down to take a nap before leaving for the CITC worship night in January. As I slept I had a nightmare that felt incredibly real. Within the nightmare I woke up in my bed only to hear strange voices and seemed to feel trapped physically. I was terrified so I prayed and kept asking Jesus to come. The sounds would flee but then I would wake up within that dream to find myself in another nightmare (still in my bed, exactly as I’d fallen asleep) hearing voices and feeling terrified. So it continued, every time I thought I was awake something strange and unreal would happen that paralyzed me with fear. After this repeated 8 or 9 times I woke up, trembling all over. I got myself together and left with my friends for the service, still a little afraid I was dreaming.

So…that was really horrible, as I’m sure you can imagine. I think what made it worse was that while it was happening, I was praying and asking Jesus to come…but I half-believed he wouldn’t and I would be taken over or hurt or whatever. But each time after I called out to him the voices or dreams or spirits, whatever they were, would leave and I would wake up.

I was still a little shaken up, because I didn’t know if it had just been a horrible dream or if I was being spiritually attacked. But when we got to 1040, after we started singing I realized that God had rescued me each time. I was alive and safe and he was sheltering me…and during each song he just brought so much comfort and joy and courage to my heart. After the third song I was laughing in the face of the enemy’s pride and boldness, laughing at my own fear and doubt. The Holy Spirit moved me to intercede for anyone under any attack, whether it was from themselves or the enemy that night.

So, that’s it. I was incredibly encouraged…and shown the immense grace and care that God has for his children, that he is quick to rescue and mighty to save. Nearly every song we sang seemed to focus on God’s light in the face of darkness, and I felt that my experience was aligned with that. I feel like those armies in the old testament…who have been saved through a great battle by God’s intervention. Praise God.

Brianna
February 1, 2013

Healed (Marie)

Listen to this great story of God’s miraculous healing shared by Marie:

Recorded Sunday, January 27th, 2013 at Church in the City

September 17, 2012

Miracle Baby (Kyla)

Listen to this great story of God’s miraculous protection shared by Mike & Kyla:

Recorded Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at Church in the City

September 15, 2012

Freedom from Debt (Dave)

Listen to this great story of God’s provision & victory over debt shared by Dave Harriff:

Recorded Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at Church in the City

September 14, 2012

SA Trip Feedback (Jess, Karen, Holly, Taylor)

Listen to these stories of God’s provision & learning His heart shared by the 2012 South Africa Trip team (Jess, Karen, Holly, Taylor)

Recorded Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at Church in the City

September 13, 2012

Healing & Blessing (Kate)

Listen to this great story of God’s healing & blessing shared by Kate:

Recorded Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at Church in the City

August 2, 2012

Hearts + Hands for Haiti (Neal)

Little did I realize that the events of January 12, 2010 would change my life.  That day a massive 7.0 earthquake hit the island nation of Haiti.  I remember watching CNN with a heavy heart that day and in the weeks to come as the totality of the devastation became more apparent.  Seven weeks later I found myself on the ground there helping a Haitian relief organization mitigate the aftermath of this disaster.

Shortly before I left for this trip my church family prayed for me and the trip.  During this time of prayer, one of the church leaders had an image come into his mind of a sculpture of a priest on the Lincoln Park campus of DePaul University.  The sculpture of the priest had extremely oversized hands in comparison to the scale of the rest of the body.  With the image in mind, I was told that as a result of this trip, God would give me big hands and an enlarged heart.

In the 2 ½ years since the earthquake, God has led me to return to Haiti 4 times to do further work.  The fruit of the short term teams that I participated with includes medical clinics, dental clinic, clean water projects, construction of a school building, orphan care, vacation bible school ministry, pastor training and working with at risk young men through a new Haiti Teen Challenge program.  My wife and I have also been compelled to care for two kids in Haiti by initiating mentoring relationships and providing funding for education and English language training.

Most recently, I have been working on planning and hosting a fundraising event for the benefit of an orphanage in Haiti.  The orphanage is being forced to relocate nearly 130 children to another location that requires complete infrastructure development.  As I was prayerfully contemplating the idea, I had a talk with God about this need.  I told God that if I was going to plan and host this event, I would need a really awesome space that would have little expense.  After all, it would be a complete waste of time and money to host an event that would raise little money over the cost of throwing the party!  Shortly after my conversation with God, a co-worker introduced me to a space that has incredible views of the Chicago River and buildings in the Chicago Loop.  The space meets every need that one could imagine to host a charitable event.  The cost…. a mere $100.00!  I took this as a green light from God to move forward with the event!

In the meantime, I have been amazed at the generosity of people as I communicate the needs of these Haitian orphans.  I have had donations of food, beverage, musical entertainment, graphic design services, audio video expertise, an emcee and volunteers to help make the event a success.  My employer even stepped up with a financial sponsorship!

About a month ago I reminded this church leader of the word he had for me a week prior to my first trip to Haiti.  God really did give me big hands and enlarged my heart for this country and its people.  When I told my wife Kathy about this conversation, she exclaimed “Neal….what is the name of your fundraiser?”  It is H3 – Hearts + Hands For Haiti!  The ironic thing is that one of my volunteers came up with the name and it wasn’t until my wife pointed it out that I realized the connection to the word I received 2 ½ years earlier.  I felt the smile of God that day on the work that He has purposed for me in Haiti.

– Neal

For more info on the Hearts + Hands for Haiti fundraiser (happening in just 2 weeks!) visit www.tix4cause.com/donations/tickets/1621

For more info on Hope Outreach International visit www.reachwithhope.org

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July 31, 2012

Broken Vessel (Lacy)

I decided to go get my hair cut on a whim. This place on the North-side was running a special for new clients, so I made an appointment with a young guy about my age. I knew instantly that he was hurting, and felt a stirring in my heart before I even went in.

Within 5 minutes we had the usual conversation:

“Are you from Chicago?”

“No I’m from California.”

“Oh, What brought you to Chicago.”

“School”

“What School did you go to?”

“Moody Bible Institute.”

[Instant “Christian” stereotype stamped on my forehead]

I haven’t felt the Spirit’s subtle presence like I did in that salon chair for a while.

5 Minutes later:

“So, can I ask you a personal question about this religion thing”

“Yeah, oh course!”

[Oh, Lord… give me words…]

“So, I know a lot of churches in the area are ‘progressive’ and are accepting of partnerships and gay couples, and you seem to be totally okay with me… but is your church accepting of gay couples?”

My heart just ached. I didn’t want to mask truth, but I also didn’t want to answer in a way that would shut down conversation.

I asked the spirit to give me words. He did.

“Well, I don’t really think that you can put a blanket over an entire community… people are individuals and we are all at different places.” [Lord… we all just need You]

We kept talking for a bit. He asked about my family and if that is where I got my “religiousness” from. When I said I was the only believer in my family he was legitimately shocked. He then asked how I came to be “religious” (I hate that word).

I quickly asked God how much of my testimony to share. He answered so clear.

“Lacy, this man has been through more in his lifetime then you can imagine… tell him everything.”

So, I shared my testimony while he was wrapping my hair in foils. I didn’t spare any nasty, humbling detail. I didn’t watch my language or attempt to sugarcoat truth. I told him who I was, and who I am, and Who it was that transformed my life.

He sat down next to me as I was finishing the story, telling him how I sat encompassed by Gods love the day I surrendered my life to Him. His beautiful soul smiled, and he said “I’m really glad you came in today.”

He didn’t get it. He wasn’t saved in that moment. He still thought I was the “good person” in the story. I am not good, My God is the only thing good in me. But, seeds were planted. I felt God’s pursuit of him. God’s longing for his son to come home.

A few years ago God really opened up a lot of opportunities for me to work in a broken and hurting community. My heart was broken and beat-up. I cried and wept over my Bible as I searched scripture, war-fairing on behalf of my friends who were so hidden in darkness. It was hard work. It was heart work. And for a while, I have resisted this calling for fear of the heartache that accompanies it. As I sat speaking to this young man, God reminded me of this burden, of this calling, of this desire to see those so scarred by sexual abuse and perversion to come to know the healing touch of the One who gave it all.

What is so beautiful about this story, is that on that particular day, at that particular moment… I felt so weak, so exhausted and torn up by life and circumstance. I wanted to escape reality for a while. Forget my responsibilities and this things swirling around in my head. I went into this salon to escape; it is there that God met me and brought needed relief to my weary heart. My Father gently encouraged me and reminded me of the woman that he has called me to be; reminded me of His heart for the broken in this city.

Our God is so good, so gentile, and so compassionate. His forgiveness abundant and His arms, open wide. This is a testimony of that; A testimony of a sovereign Father using a broken vessel to plant a seed in a lost son. That is how marvelous our God is.

Lacy

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July 3, 2012

America Equip 2012 Feedback

Feedback from Steve, Sarah, and Danielle on last week’s America Equip time in Kansas City, MO:

Recorded Sunday, July 1st, 2012 at Church in the City