We had a marvelous time serving the community this past Thursday through our annual Fall Festival. We all know the story in regards to what happened to the weather. Weather men and women forecasted even as late as on Wednesday evening that there will be 100% chance of rain on Thursday at 4PM which is the time that we needed the weather to be clear for us to set up and prepare. However, we all prayed asking God to take away the rain and clouds just several hours quicker so we can serve the community. The thought that went through my mind as I was praying for the weather was, “God is the one who created the universe by the words of His mouth. So, clearing up the sky a few hours faster is not a big deal for Him. He just needs to blow His breath a little stronger.” He heard our prayers by clearing up the sky on Fairbanks-N. Houston by 1PM. We are reminded once again that God loves to hear kingdom-minded prayers like this. New Life, please don’t forget events like this. When the going gets tough in your life, experiences like these will remind you to focus on God and will strengthen your faith in Him.
I was greatly pleased by everything that I saw during Fall Festival as I walked around and mingled with people. The community people coming, appreciating and enjoying the games and food and our members joyfully serving them were all beautiful sights to behold. One passing comment from one of our guests and one observation from a new member of our church, however, were particularly refreshing to me.
As I was serving at a registration table, I heard a woman standing in line saying, “This is getting better and better each year!” When I heard that, the wedding banquet at Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle came to mind. The master of ceremony said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” (John 2:10)
Years ago, several churches in Houston started to have Fall Festival to serve the community. As time went on, many of them started to charge registration fees although the amount was nominal. But New Life is still making everything free of charge. We are able to do that because of house church ministry. Each house church is asked to come up with a game booth using their creativity and resources as a way of worshipping God and blessing the community. Our Missions Team was in charge of organizing the whole event by directing people and house church traffic, providing food and candy, ordering festival inflatables, setting up and cleaning up. And they did an incredible job. But much of the actual physical labor was done by everyone because of our house church ministry. And the whole event was much, much better than last year. It was God’s church in action where every member was contributing his or her portion to build up God’s kingdom. Let’s do even better next year!
During the event, I was able to spend a good amount of time with a person who just became a member of New Life. He told me, “What I like about New Life is that everyone serves gladly and no one needs to be coerced to do ministry.” Well, his statement may not be 100% true because there are a few members of New Life who either don’t serve or serve joylessly! But I know what he meant. The vast majority of New Life members are joyful people because they try to serve others instead of expecting others to serve them. Two verses of the Bible came to my mind. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
I shared with him that I have tried to train New Life members over the years to serve sacrificially without being soft or catering to their self-centeredness. Initially, it might have been hard to follow this kind of direction. But now, I sense that we have built good and strong spiritual muscles and that serving is just part of our DNA. So, thank you New Life, for listening and following me for many years even though at times it must have been hard!
As a side note, when I spent some time with men in their 20’s after the clean up, I heard them regurgitating some of the points from last Sunday’s message such as “Cover up,” “Button up” etc. I realize that New Life’s future is bright because we have young men who know how to serve and who are committed to be holy (and want to marry holy wives)!
God did it again for us this year! Let’s fill the month of November with words of praise and thanksgiving to God.
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