Yes, We’re Open! (you are the church)

Last week Kathy and I celebrated our 17 year wedding anniversary. We made plans to be kid-free for a few hours so we could have lunch together without asking for kid menus or arguing about why, “you can’t just eat ice cream.” After we dropped off the kids, we sat in the car for about 15 minutes trying to find a restaurant that was open with dine-in seating. How obnoxious! We finally found one, but it got me thinking about the church. We haven’t met in person since March. Some have disengaged and others have just felt distant and disconnected. But for many, it just seems like the church is closed.

If this pandemic has done anything, it’s reminded me of what….or who, the church is. When the word “church” comes up in conversation, the first thing we think of is a building. We have this mindset that church is a place we go to on Sundays. The spiritual gas station where we get to see other familiar faces. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we don’t “go” to church; we are the church.

In 1 Timothy 5, Paul describes the church as people dedicated to doing whatever it takes to reach out and help others. We have a responsibility to serve and help others in need as the church. Caring for each other (inside & outside the church) is the quickest way to see Jesus change lives. Too often, we see a need and wait for the pastor to take responsibility. But that’s not the way church works. But I believe that’s why many in the church have had such a hard time. Those “things” that they’ve been accustomed to others doing for them (i.e. creating relational and serve opportunities), have suddenly shifted to their personal responsibility.

Caring for each other (inside & outside the church) is the quickest way to see Jesus change lives.

Each of us has been given skills, abilities and opportunities to serve, both inside and outside the church (not the building!). In Timothy’s church, for example, the women ran a widows ministry (1 Timothy 5:16), and elders directed church affairs while others were devoted just to teaching and preaching (1 Timothy 5:17).

In the Bible, church is always a reference to people, not a place. The church is a body of believers that live out the Gospel in their displaying and declaring. The church is at its best when people inside the building take Jesus’ message outside the building and serve those they meet. Be encouraged as you live out this perspective of YOU being the church. Yes, we’re open! We’re always open because YOU are the church.

Running Toward The Pain

The pandemic has upended the economic stability of our church and community. But with that shaken foundation, we have seen great opportunity to meet needs all around us. Over the past few months, Awakening Church has been consistently working with other local churches in our community to provide much-needed food, diapers, and other personal hygiene items as families in our local area face trying times. 

While our personal needs have increased and our resources have decreased, we have stayed intentional about running toward our community needs, instead of away from them. As a result, we have seen many needs met and many lives changed. Each week we pick up and deliver many pallets of food from one of our local partners. That food is brought to a local non-profit that sorts and distributes that food based on the individual family needs. At it’s peak, we were serving over 620 families. Today there are 565 families in the program (approx. 2542 people, 28 churches involved, and over 16,500 grocery orders provided).

Recently, there has been an surplus in food so many of the leftover food boxes have gone directly to a local hispanic church that has faced great challenges. Their pastor has expressed deep hurt and questioned the survival of their church. And he’s not alone. According to the Barna Group, tens of thousands of pastors are unsure if their church will survive the coronavirus pandemic. However, 2020 has given us a glimpse into just how fragile our churches actually are. We are learning first hand how you don’t know how able God is until you find yourself in a situation that you can’t handle and requires the divine providence of God. We need God’s providence in these days!

You don’t know how able God is until you find yourself in a situation that you can’t handle and requires the divine providence of God.

But praise God, He is providing! And he’s using Awakening Church to help provide for other families, churches, and neighborhoods across our region. This past Friday, 370 food boxes were picked up and delivered directly to this hispanic church. They have 67 families in their congregation, so they are using the food boxes as a way to reach out to their community, minister to their felt needs, and build relational bridges into their immediate neighborhood.

In a year of uncertainty, we are continually looking for ways to love our community and share the message of hope through a relationship with Jesus. Despite facing ongoing challenges, Awakening Church will continue to operate virtually and prepare for the day when we can worship together again physically. Please continue praying for us and our boldness to proclaim Jesus in a hurting city.

Find more ways to connect and support at www.AwakeningSeattle.com

Engaging Our City

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We know that the impacts of COVID-19 will be long-lasting emotionally, financially, and even spiritually. The future is uncertain, but our goals remain the same. As we move forward with faith and wisdom, we will make decisions based on our vision, mission, and values. These will be our guide as we confront difficult issues in our community. We are committed to serving those around us and meeting as many needs as possible. The needs far outweigh our abilities, but we are putting them all into God’s hands in prayer.

Here are some ways we have had the opportunity to serve…

  • Covid-19 Food Drive – Practicing hospitality as a Jesus follower demonstrates Christian brotherhood and good Samaritan care for those whose lives are upended and in need of help. Each week we’ve continued to help provide for this overwhelming need in our community. Here is a message that was sent out by the food drive coordinator this week…

“We didn’t think a market would be possible today, as there just wasn’t sufficient food and items to make it worth it. We don’t want to open the market, if only a small number of families can benefit. Over the morning, Awakening Church arrived with three car loads of food!..Suddenly, we had fresh gallons of milk, hard boiled eggs, guacamole, tomatoes, potatoes, red onion and Trader Joe’s yogurt. Hastily, we set up the market, and it turned out to be one of the coolest yet…Thank you Casey, Pastor Jonah and Awakening Church!”

  • In connection to the food drive, we provided 40 $25 Target gift cards to families that needed specific items that weren’t accessible through the food drive.
  • Awakening Kids and families are putting together 250 goodie bags for families with children (including Lifeway activity books, stickers, glow sticks, candy, etc.) that will be personally given to families receiving support through the food drive.
  • We were able to supply some much needed financial support in providing necessities for families of students in our neighborhood through the Seattle Area Youth For Christ.
  • For 7 weeks we prayer walked our church neighborhood followed up with gift bags with encouragement and the hope of the gospel, the Jesus film, and microwave popcorn. This opened the door to reveal new relationships and gospel conversations.
  • Several of our Awakening Church family members have been deeply impacted by the coronavirus. We have been able to provide grocery gift cards to help them make it through.
  • We helped one of our members relocate to a smaller apartment.
  • We contributed to a local back pack drive for children in need. Some schools in our community report 70% of students receive free lunch. Many people work multiple jobs to provide for their families. In our area of continually rising cost of living, the $65 – $100 for a new backpack and school supplies is more than difficult, as many families have to spend increasing more than ever before on just housing and food.
  • We continue to gather weekly though digital platforms for prayer and worship. We’ve seen an increase in connection points and a more intentional time of focused prayer.

We believe that the key to a new movement of the Spirit of God will not be in a new technique, but in renewed passion of Gospel proclamation, earnest prayer, and yearning for the Spirit of God.

Please pray with us as we continue looking for ways to engage our city. In addition, we are planing to host 2 Backyard Bible Clubs this summer (Aug. 10-14 & Sept. 14-18). We had planned on a VBS, at the end of June, but had to adjust due to the current reality. We are praying for support from individual partners and mission teams to come alongside us for our Bible Clubs. Please pray about personally coming and/or bringing a team of 3-5 people to support these incredible opportunities. We need you!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

In His Service,

Jonah Easley

 

Don’t Worry, God Has it.

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It’s natural that in times of crisis, we turn to God. PLEASE HELP! (Me at the end of a homeschooling day). During this current pandemic of COVID-19, I find myself quarantined and growing more restless by the day. I understand the importance of the quarantine, but that doesn’t always make it easy. Patience has never been something that I feel “good at.” It’s just hard to sit still during trials and wait patiently for God to move. 

“THE FULLNESS OF TIME”

I tend to worry when God doesn’t come through when I want Him to, or the way I want Him to. In moments like this, I have to remind myself God is never late or never early. He is always on time! Galatians 4:4, tends to enter my mind when I begin to question His timing. It says, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

This phrase about the “fullness of time” is important because it signifies that God was at work behind the scenes as He prepared the exact timing of Jesus’ birth. His timing was perfect…and always is. God’s watch hasn’t gotten slower over the years. Our sovereign God is still calling His people to a deeper trust in Him as His timeline unfolds.

Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

As we experience storms and seasons of uncertainty in this world, God’s fruit is produced through those storming moments. The way we go through the storms gives us a platform from which to speak from to tell of the “immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7 ESV).

Through the ups and downs

The promise of Hebrews 13:5 gives us hope no matter what the circumstances. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (ESV). He is always with you and always provides what you need to do exactly what He has called you to do. God is faithful. Don’t worry! Don’t panic! Trust Him!

The command to “be still” before God comes from the Hebrew word (raphah) meaning, get your hands off it! Let it go and surrender it to Him! Let God have the problem! He is the one in control of your safety. Problems always show up when we fail to give God total and complete control. When I impatiently throw my hat in the ring, things always get worse. As a control freak, it’s hard to take my hands completely off. When I do, worry comes too easy.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;

of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1 (ESV)

Whom should we fear?

You can run, but you can’t hide! BE STILL! Go to the “stronghold of your life” and release the reigns completely to Him. Don’t panic! 

  • We trust in the God of limitless power! (Zechariah 8:1)
  • The battle is not yours but God’s. (2 Chronicles 20:15)
  • Wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

It’s difficult to watch the current pandemic unfold. It seems to worsen by the day and it’s hitting too close to home. In this unprecedented season, we see God calling out the church in “old” ways. We have been forced outside the walls! I pray that through it all, we rediscover first-century tactics that result in reaching our own generation just as they did. Peyton Jones says in Reaching the Unreached, “Before faith comes to others’ ears, movement must first come to our feet.” This is NOT a time for us to pause, hoard, or panic… it’s a time to be on mission. This is our moment to display Jesus and declare the good news to our neighbors and the world.

We believe that in the fullness of time (when He receives the most glory), God will remove this pandemic. The promise of God’s endless power and presence gives us the rock-solid foundation that so many are searching for right now. Let us “be still,” “wait for the Lord,” and share the hope of Jesus with our world.

A testimony of changed lives

When we planted Awakening Church, we had great plans to reach our city, but didn’t know fully what that meant. Joining God where He was working meant hitting the streets and following Jesus’ example to mingle with the people in front of us. We are a missions focused church and that mission begins the moment we step out of our homes. The Kingdom of God can’t advance if we are stuck in a holy huddle. So we deploy each week across our city to display Jesus and declare the hope of the gospel.

When we prayed for ministry opportunities to engage our city, God brought us people that had personally experienced the brokenness of being homeless and a passion to reach them for Christ. In the Seattle King County area, there are currently about 12,500 homeless people living on the streets or in shelters. This is an overwhelming number, but we’ve learned that  being overwhelmed is the first step in getting back to where we belong…dependent on Jesus. The door opened wide to bring Jesus where He wanted to be. We knew that if we wanted to reach the ones that nobody is reaching, we needed to go where nobody else is going. So we began to pray and God began to bring homeless people into our lives. Each week (before COVID-19) we pick them up and welcome them into our Awakening Church family with open arms. 

Over the past month, we have seen several people radically changed by the gospel. Not only that, but this past week one of our new sisters led two others to Jesus! Our social distancing has kept us from our “normal routine,” but it hasn’t stopped God from working in the hearts of people. This past Friday we held a baptism service at one of the local shelters and baptized five people! God delights in transforming people. And when we are willing to embark with Him on the journey He set out for us, we help facilitate that transformation.

J. Hudson Taylor said, “Unless there is the element of extreme risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.”

May our faith grow as we risk more for the sake of Jesus.

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Prayer is the Work

Prayer is the Work

“…my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:7

God is at work in the hearts of His people! Over the past couple of months, our men’s groups have been reading through a powerful book on prayer called Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Through this book, God has been igniting our souls with a passion for prayer and a deeper dependence on Him. In our own way, we are beginning to understand what Pastor Cymbala did…that “no matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer. This is the engine that will drive the church.”

This month we are increasing the ownership of what God is doing in our hearts. Each weekend, we will be prayer walking a 1 mile radius of where God has planted us. We believe that God has placed us in our community with the purpose of bringing hope through the good news of Jesus. On the fourth week of our prayer walking, we will be knocking on doors to introduce ourselves, church, and the gospel. We pray that over the course of this month, our intercessory cries to God will break up the hard soil of our city and prepare the way for the seeds of the gospel to be received. 

Please join us in praying for the increased impact of Awakening Church in the Lake Hills area of Bellevue. We are reminded in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The enemy has a stronghold that will be broken as the people of God cry out for souls to be awakened.

If we don’t do anything else, we have to pray. During the early days of planting Awakening Church, we knew that according to Matthew 16:18, that it was Jesus that was going to build His church, not us. Last year, as we began laying the groundwork for who we desired to be, we went through the book of Acts to discover the core values and principles of the early church. We found that the makeup of the early church was made up of Jesus followers that were dedicated to the gospel, community, mission and prayer.

For me personally, prayer has often taken a backseat to the “active” pursuit of people, systems, and the logistical organization of the church. I know first hand how easy it is to neglect praying for the city to which we were called. Here are a few reasons…

We like to “do” stuff

We may say that Jesus is building the church, but our actions can oftentimes appear the opposite. Our execution of “doing church” can look like we are trying to program our way into a healthy body of believers. We tend to focus on services, groups, classes, and events…and of course these things are important.

However, when it comes to prayer, as my friend Jeff Vanderstelt says, we look like “functional atheists.” We say we believe in the power of God that comes through prayer, but our actions prove we don’t.

We forget the importance

There are many reasons we have for praying, but the primary reason we pray is because prayer is important to God. In the book of Jeremiah, God instructs the prophet to…“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf…” (Jeremiah 29:7)

The command to cry out to God in intercessory prayer for our city is commanded in scripture and not something to be forsaken. As a child of God, wherever you live, work, and play, God has placed you there as His image bearer and ambassador.

Pride

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 is a constant reminder that the work, glory, or city does not belong to me. This is His work! By the grace of God, making prayer a priority for our city reminds us that God alone saves and God alone deserves the glory.

As disciples of Christ, our primary calling is to be with Him and on mission for Him. In humility, we must admit that we don’t have what it takes to fulfill His mission for us. We need His power! Only He can break up the hard soil of our cities. Building the church isn’t the work, prayer is the work. We were called and sent to plant Awakening Church in Bellevue, Washington. We are crying out to the God that can change hearts. Our city and neighborhoods desperately need the life-giving renewal and restoration that flow from Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

May our lives be marked not only by living on mission in everyday life, but as people who intercede daily on behalf of our cities. We are in the city, for the city.

Check out awakeningseattle.com for weekly updates.

Ready to Launch

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This month we are launching new City Groups. In a nutshell, City Groups serve as the main growth point of Awakening Church. In its purest form, we define our City Groups as, a safe place where people can encounter God, and find the resources and relationships to nurture their spiritual growth.

We love to worship together on Sundays. But larger group settings restrict opportunities to personally connect with others and there just doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to share personal prayer requests in the Crowd.

City Groups, on the other hand, are perfect for creating a sense of intimacy and close fellowship. It’s in your City Group that everybody knows your name. When you are absent, people notice. And you are missed if you don’t show up.

Carey Nieuwhof speaks of the paradox of our current age, He says, “we’ve never been more connected as a culture, and we’ve never felt more alone. Churches must prioritize community. Real community.”

Relationships are the glue that holds a church together. And at Awakening Church, our methods of ministry flow solely from engaging our city and the relationships that form. 

  • Please pray for our new City Groups and group leaders as they live out the great commission.
  • Pray for new relationships, gospel conversations, and ongoing disciple making.

We are rejoicing in God’s faithfulness in working though our mission team in India. Thank you for joining our team by your praying for God to work through us. May God continue to bless our partners as they give their lives each day to serving Jesus in India.

  • The orphan camp had 86 children in attendance and we saw 16 of them give their lives to Jesus.
  • The pastor training was an encouraging time as we poured into 65 pastors from the region.
  • During our Sunday worship gathering, 17 gave their lives to Jesus!

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It’s with great excitement to introduce our new church partner, Chinese Baptist Church, Seattle. We thank the Lord, who continues to bring partnering churches along side us to further establish the roots of Awakening Church. Most of our partners are geographically far from us, but CBC is a local church that makes local partnership in city engagement possible. 

  • Please pray for us as we seek ways to unify, pray for, and work together to push back the darkness in the Puget Sound.

 

Transforming Communities – Planting Churches

This month Awakening Church will be sending a team to serve alongside an ongoing partner in South Asia. The commission to pray, give, and go is at the forefront of our hearts. We are called to “go and make disciples of all nations” and India is one of the places that God has called us to go. India is the most unreached nation on earth. When they face life’s greatest challenges, millions of Indians are left hopeless and in desperate need of the Savior. Please be in prayer for our team as we prepare for this challenging and faith testing trip.

WHAT WILL WE DO?

  • ORPHAN CAMP: (need 3-4 people that love serving) Part of Pastor D’s ministry includes an orphanage for desperate and hopeless children. Our Orphan camp will introduce children to Jesus through engaging activities, songs, and prayer.

  • CHURCH PLANTER TRAINING: Over the past 25 years, Pastor D has helped to plant over 60 churches. Those leading these churches have no formal theological training but are learning as they go and have a great need to develop sound doctrine. Our training will create an opportunity for us to invest in these church leaders as they faithfully serve in extremely challenging circumstances. Our focus will be on multiplication as we see each of those churches plant more churches this year.

The work that we are able to do in the Seattle area and around the world is directly linked to your prayers and partnership with Awakening Church. Thank you for being a part of what God is doing. May he receive all glory and honor.

At 1.2 billion people, India has the second-largest population in the world. Recent statistics show that the percentage of Christians in India has remained steady at just over 2% percent.

Although India is a land of joy and deep cultural richness, it has also been a land of profound suffering, oppression, and injustice. A 2017 report showed that India was ranked fourth in the world—after Syria, Nigeria, and Iraq—for the highest levels of Christian persecution.

And yet, I’ve heard countless testimonies expressing gratitude for the persecutions they have experienced. Christians continue to testify that the persecution has heightened their sense of commitment and love for Jesus and His love for them. It has shaped their Christian identity and has increased their faith. One Indian believer said

I understand that being a Christian and persecution are one and the same things… We are strengthened by the fact that God is present with us, even when we are suffering and persecuted… We can trust in him. He is always there and never leaves us, no matter what happens.

Out of Indian theology comes a faith that is more than a personal relationship with Christ, or even salvation in the life to come. It is also about upholding human dignity, striving for justice, resisting evil, and creating community. Ultimately, it is about the coming of the kingdom of God, on earth, as it is in heaven.

For many years, Christians have engaged in meeting the great physical needs despite the presence of inequalities, exclusion, and conflict. These have been strategic platforms for us as well as we partner in helping to start schools, training centers, and planting churches.

When churches are part of the cultural transformation and find their own role in their communities as conduits for hope, healing, health, and learning—they will contribute to God’s mission in ways not otherwise possible.

Awakening Church is actively involved in engaging social challenges, making disciples, and planting Churches. And by God’s grace, we will be able to continue this partnership for many years to come.

Christians in India have a bright future not because of the current cultural and political scenario, but because God wants to bless this nation through his people. I am confident that God will continue to empower his people and through them, bless the nation of India. Even though there is an evident effort to push Christians to the margins, the people of God will continue to contribute to the nation and its people. We are driven by love, compassion, and a God-given mandate to go and make disciples.

Please join us in praying, giving, and going to the ends of the earth as we make disciples and plant churches.

A GLOBAL IMPACT

Copy of Copy of Turquoise Map Travel Trifold Brochure-2The commission to missions was given to every individual follower of Jesus. As God breaks our heart for the lostness in our city and the 7,165 unreached people groups,1 we come together throughout the month of December to push back the darkness in a concentrated and sacrificial way though our World Mission Offering. There are many reasons that we have such a big heart for missions, but here are a few that keep us focused and moving forward in a sacrificial way.

World missions is the call of the local church.

Vance Pitman says, “God’s activity in my life locally is always connected to his activity globally.” And as I read through the pages of scripture and better understand what it means to follow Jesus…

I believe that if we aren’t doing everything we can to make and multiply disciples of Jesus, we haven’t really believed or understood the gospel.

Every follower of Jesus is called to obey Christ’s command to make disciples who know and obey his Word. But how does he intend us to do that? His Word is clear about our call to dependence, obedience, disciple making, and churches planting through the local church. The local church is called to send out missionaries (long and short-term) and care for those that are sent. And the aim is to plant healthy, reproducing local churches as a result of our missions effort.

Prioritize equipping missionaries & indigenous leaders. 

62% of the world’s pastors have no formal training and will probably never get any formal training from Bible school.”2  Our role is not merely to assess the problems, but to actively equip missionaries and indigenous leaders. As we help plant churches in South and South East Asia, training pastors and leaders remains a priority. Missionaries need encouragement to continue faithfully serving in their difficult contexts and new local pastors need solid Biblical training. We don’t take this responsibility lightly.

Long-term partnerships have the greatest long-term impact.

We have been intentional about cultivating long-term missional partnerships. Part of these partnerships involve the goal that we would deploy members to serve long-term in their contexts for the sake of the gospel. Being long-term focused means more than giving financially, but also includes short-term going with a long-term mind-set. We don’t just provide “missions experiences,” but we see our short-term work primarily as a way to support our long-term partners, and secondarily as a way to raise up new leaders to join the work. Missionaries and indigenous leaders need more boots on the ground, not just friends passing through.

God has given us a many instructions on the global mission of the church. Not only on what it is, but he gave us the “how-to’s” as we faithfully, joyfully, and confidentially deploy. Because we have been loved by God, we honor him by working toward his final goal—worshipers from every language, tribe, people, and nation. He gives us a mandate with a promise that his global mission will advance through dependent lives, as we display Jesus, declare the gospel, and deploy for his glory.

Our World Mission Offering will support ministries and missionaries who are making disciples and multiplying churches among unreached peoples and places around the world. Please pray that Awakening Church will continue to make a global impact as we cultivate a heart for the the Kingdom of God. Thank you for your encouragement and being actively involved in this global work!

Here is the breakdown of our 2019 World Mission Offering.

Local 15% We have strategic partnerships with local ministries that help be Jesus in our community. We encourage individuals, families, and City Groups to partner with us as we seek to be His hands and feet - Displ

DO YOU TRUST ME?

do you trust me?.pngMinistry is so much more than the organizations we establish, the programs we execute, or knowledge we accumulate. The call and work of ministry is heart wrenching, tear shedding, and dependance testing! I often speak of the deploying and declaring the gospel is the easy part…but displaying the love of Jesus to the world can be the most challenging part.

It all looks great on paper, but once you hit the streets, it never plays out the way we have imagined that it would. This remains true for Awakening Church as we finish year one, and I’m confident that it will remain true until Jesus returns and brokenness is restored. One of our key leaders at Awakening Church is a young woman named Casey.

IMG_0186.JPGShe has a challenging past of living on the streets as a teenager and a struggle with addiction. She got mixed up in many difficulties, but God got a hold of her heart and in full surrender, gave Him everything.

Through her experience, God has given her great responsibility in using her story to help others overcome similar things. She’s now ministering at a women’s shelter that helps women get off the streets and out of addiction or abusive relationships. I want you to hear how God is working in her as she reflects on the past year…

God has put me through the wringer this year…highs and lows like I could never imagine. The lowest part of 2019 was watching our close friend, Amanda, dying of cancer and rejecting the gospel through it all.

God made it clear I had been appointed to stay by her side, to be a witness and testimony of His love and salvation.  He also promised He would be faithful and rescue her. But he wasn’t! And the longer she suffered, the harder her heart grew. And the harder her heart grew, the harder mine grew.

I became so angry with God I would spend sleepless nights driving around yelling and swearing at Him. “What are you doing God!? You’re making it worse! I thought you were going to save her! She is going to DIE without ever knowing you! What’s the point of me being here!? DO SOMETHING!!!”

I blamed God for my hard heart, and it was His fault I hated him so much because He was in control and He wasn’t doing anything. But I stayed and the Lord would whisper back, “Casey, do you trust me? Do you trust that I love Amanda just as much as you and I have a plan?” and the last and most difficult question, “If you never get to know if she comes to Me will you be okay with that?” And that was where I had to contemplate how much I truly believed His promises.

Well, turned out, God is faithful all the time. In those moments, it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally painful to sacrificially trust Him with it all – that is when He comes through and His glory shines 100-fold!

Not only did Amanda come to saving faith in Jesus as her Lord and Savior, but that urgency for the gospel and saving of lost souls has sparked a fire that can’t be contained. Since Amanda’s death, we have celebrated 16 souls coming into relationship with Jesus. So now I see, that the struggle with Amanda and with God wasn’t just about me or even her, but about so many others that will now spend eternity in Heaven because the Lord took me to such a dark place of desperation for Him.

I have learned that the most excruciating of lows bring the richest of treasures from the Lord. So, lead me to the valleys, Lord, because when I am there I know it’s exactly where You need me to be… Amen!”

God is clearly at work in and through the lives of Awakening Church. Thank you for your continued partnership with Awakening Church and your investment in the daily lives of Casey, Amanda, and all those we have opportunities to point people to Jesus!

Leadership Spotlight – Louise Rider

My husband & I arrived in Bellevue, Washington one year ago. God began to reveal his desire of dependence and obedience for where to begin. The knowledge and experience of God keeping His promises fueled a boldness and a daily strength. It was amazing to see the doors that God began to open. I had learned that much of the international population living in Bellevue had no knowledge of God or had even read a Bible. Many worship idols or are taught from childhood that God does not exist. Despite all this I have found that many are open to the Gospel. 

In October I began teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to a room full of mostly Chinese adults. I took the opportunity to make it known that I was a follower of Jesus.  I seized all opportunities to share the Gospel throughout the year. I was able to open many conversations because of the principles that America was founded on – a great American culture lesson. Last December, at the close of my lesson, I was approached by a Chinese woman who urgently asked if I would please teach her the Bible. This was spoken with such conviction that I will never forget that day. That conversation resulted in the start of our first ESL Bible Study class.  All students received or brought a Bible to class and were encouraged to read them each day. It was impactful to see their curiosity as they came seeking whether or not God truly exists and watching the Holy Spirit convict their hearts. Relationships are being built. Some have plugged into Awakening Church and bring their children to Sunday school. Recently we had our 1st ESL Picnic and we were introduced to whole families. God’s amazing grace! 

In March I began volunteering in the ‘After School Kid’s Program.’ There are up to 40 elementary aged children who attend this program. I met with the director and asked permission to start a Bible Club and permission was granted. Kids are being discipled and hearing that God so loves them. Many children ask questions, Bible Stories are shared, Bible Verses are practiced and all receive a Bible. 

Each week we host a small group in our home. With 5 nations currently represented, we are praying that China and Yemen will be represented soon. What is most lovely to me is the potential that these different cultures taking the gospel to their home lands. Amen! 

Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.”

All prayers and financial support received for Awakening Church enable us to reach out to our communities. It enables us to spread God’s Word to all the nations of the world. To God be the glory!

Blessings,

Louise Rider