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

7 Prayers for Awakening

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This weekend at Awakening Church we are celebrating our one year anniversary. We rejoice at what God has done over the past year and look forward to what he will do through us in the future. Throughout the Old Testament, God consistently told His children to stop and reflect on what He had done for them. We want to do just that, not so that we can pat ourselves on the back, but to remind ourselves that God isn’t done working in Bellevue, WA or around the world.

Even though there are so many reasons for us to celebrate the past year—I never want us stop dreaming big for what He wants for our future. As I think about the next year, I have seven specific prayers for Awakening Church.

  1. I pray that we will continue to become more dependent on the Holy Spirit and on each other. It sounds like Christianity 101 but we spend most days in a tug-of-war with God. Our growing dependence means more naturally acknowledging God’s power, promises, and provision in everyday life.
  1. I pray that we will continue to grow in diversity. We’ve have had a focus of being a multi-ethnic body since day one. We live in the first minority-majority city in Wtshighton. Over ½ of our population was born outside the United States and we have over 100 major languages spoken in our neighborhoods. We want to be intentional about building bridges to reach the various cultures in our city.
  1. I pray that we will make disciples who make disciples. Churches can be known for many things…but I pray that we will be characterized by the way we make disciples. A lot of that will have to happen at the one-on-one level in city groups and in personal relationships. I pray that we will grow in becoming a people that multiply disciples that change this city.
  1. I pray for wisdom to make the strategic moves. There will be many critical decisions over the next year. Even as a young church, we have a lot of needs and it’s going to take our focus on the Spirit’s leading to guide us toward the right decisions.
  1. I pray that we will grow in our generosity. We want to see a culture shift, from inward living to selfless giving. Our attitude at Awakening Church is that we’re always making adjustments to our personal lives so we can give generously in order to reach more people.
  1. I pray that we will be a people of prayer. Without prayer, nothing we do will make a dent; If we become a people of prayer, there’s no limit to what God will accomplish.
  1. Lastly, I pray that we continue boldly declaring the Gospel to the world around us. What good is a group of fisherman who don’t catch fish? We live in a community that is 96% unreached…they are lost without the hope of the gospel. So I never want us to be so content with our “99” that we neglect not only the “1” but the millions in the Seattle area who don’t know Christ. 

This all starts with us as individuals…making this personal. In Scripture, when God blessed his people, it was never for them to store up that blessing and prop their feet up. God blessed them to be a blessing to others. And he is calling us to do the same. Pray with me that God would pour out his blessing for his glory!

Download your printable prayer guide here.

Happy Birthday!

Thank you for making Awakening Church a reality. Your prayers, generosity, and mission teams have shown how God is working all around us. May the labor of these foundational years give us the platform for many more years of ministry. To God be the Glory.

Pastor Jonah

Awakening Church August Update

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This past month our mission team poured into a God-appointed group of underground house church leaders, ministry leaders, and other persecuted Christians in SE Asia. Our theme for this years Awakening Conference was “Walking with Jesus in Hard Places.” Here is a brief testimony of a family we had the privilege to serve…

During the Awakening Conference 2019, I was strengthened as a leader, restored as a wife, blessed as a mother, challenged as a kingdom builder, and encouraged as a member of a loving family.  I was FILLED BACK UP again as a Warrior in His army!! Thank you SO MUCH for remembering us!! Even though we are so far from home base! And thank you for RENEWING us with your support, teaching and mentoring while also blessing SO MANY in our community and partner ministries as well! Words could not possibly express the DEPTH of eternal investment made in us during your time serving us! We are truly forever grateful!” -Smith family

display weekend!

This week, the Seattle area families are in in full-blown back-to-school mode. This time of year offers incredible opportunities to reach out to our community. For the second year, Awakening Church was a part of serving the teachers at Eastgate Elementary as they prepare for the new school year. For us, these opportunities are all about establishing partnerships with a vital part of our city. Partnerships allow us to go beyond meeting a single need. But as we develop deeper relationships with the staff and kids, the outreach can go far beyond buying pencil sharpeners. We pray that these relationships will continue to develop as we engage Bellevue with the gospel. Please pray for the development of these school relationships as we partner with our city for the advancement of the gospel.

On Sunday morning, 19 churches in Bellevue closed their doors to worship together at Downtown Bellevue Park. It was a beautiful picture of unity as we elevate our oneness in Christ to show the world what the gospel is all about!

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This months marks the re-launch of our ESL Bible Study. This weekly class gives us and opportunity to show recent immigrants that we care about them. It also opens the door to introduce them to Biblical Christianity, Awakening Church, and a weekly community where they hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our study introduces the gospel in a way that people from non-Christian worldview cultures need. We began in Genesis 1:1 and unfolded the Bible’s BIG redemptive story all the way through the Old and New Testaments. We provide the overall Biblical context that makes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ clear and meaningful, even for people who know nothing about the God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. Please pray for our leaders and students as we kick-off our class this week.

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Over the summer we have been going through the book of Acts as a church. As we read the pages of scripture, we see that the growth of the early church was unstoppable and could not be explained. A small group of unqualified people with no money, no power, and no influence turned the world upside down and changed the course of history. This series through the book of Acts is helping us discover and refocus on who we are called to be as we lead the charge in Bellevue, WA. Click here to messages from the Unstoppable series. Please continue to pray for Awakening Church in the coming days as we intentionally create a DNA for a healthy and vibrant ministry in Bellevue, WA!

Thank you for your partnership and commitment to see the gospel of Jesus spread throughout the Pacific NW and beyond.

In His Service,

Pastor Jonah Easley

Joy in the Trenches

I’m here in a very beautiful part of SE Asia. In this land filled with such natural and cultural beauty, there is an evident covering of darkness and lostness.

For decades now, A massive crackdown on religious freedom has been underway, where churches are being demolished, Bibles confiscated and posters of Jesus replaced with portraits of government leaders. In this country, the government sees the spread of the Christian faith as a threat to their culture and way of life.

12 Years ago we were called to sacrifice much to the call of international missions. Since our return to America, The doors that God had opened to us have remained open in this closed country. Now through Awakening Church in Bellevue, WA…God has called us to faithfully do our part.

I often preach about the obligation of every believer to be involved in missions. It is not difficult to find a text to emphasize this biblical truth. There is much in the Bible that demands that the Gospel be preached to every person in every generation. I preach much on both of these subjects. But, my favorite subject is the joy of missions.

In order for the Gospel to be preached to all nations and tribes, three things are necessary as far as man’s part is concerned. Someone must go. Many must pray. Many must give. When someone commits himself to go and others promise to pray and give, it brings great joy. The faithful missionary William Carey said,

Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.

Because of the nature of our God…we should be willing to attempt anything and everything possible to get the hope of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Our main focus in this SE Asia country is to train and empower indigenous leaders. Our ministry is more about teaching others to fish, rather than bringing back my own prize-wining catch. What I’ve learned is that missionary service is…well, service. It’s others-centered. It’s not glamorous. It’s about finding joy in the trenches. To put the work of the Gospel first, essentially means that I must learn to place the ministry of others above my own ministry.

As we encourage a tired and discouraged group of church leaders, I urge you to pray. Pray for big faith, endurance, encouragement and joy as they give it all for the sake of the gospel. Missionaries are real people with real doubts, fears, challenges, and struggles. They face spiritual battles, cultural and language barriers, and physical exhaustion. They need our prayers to face each day with wisdom, grace, and strength from the all-powerful God. Thanks for partnering with us as we do all we can to impact the nations with the gospel of Jesus.

 

SMALL CHURCH, BIG MISSION

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In this early season of Awakening Church, we may be small…but our mission isn’t. Our resources and leaders are limited and often stretched thin, but that doesn’t mean our mission is different than the mega-churches across the world. Since the launch of Awakening Church our focus has been in “making disciples of all nations.” Missions is engrained in our DNA and we have learned that being on Mission is not a program of the Church, it is the purpose of the Church. It is not my mission… it is God’s mission. And He has commanded us to join in.

Through our 4(D) vision (A multi-ethnic church Depending on Jesus, Displaying His love, Declaring the gospel, and Deploying for His Glory) we are living as a family on mission. We have a “culture of discipleship,” where every person is living out our vision every day. Awakening Church takes discipleship seriously, not just so we can grow, but so we can live out our mission as we deploy in our community and around the world.

On the surface, we may look like any other small church plant, but we have a big mission and serve a big God! We are seeing and celebrating this movement of the Holy Spirit. Personally, I celebrate the humility and boldness of these people called Awakening Church to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Is this journey easy? Nope! Is the budget tight? Yes! Has God been faithful and has the journey been fruitful? 100% YES!

As we discover our church’s spiritual gifts, passions, and personalities, we have identified where those intersect with what God is doing in the world. This missional discernment has been critical for finding our missional niche. Here in Bellevue, WA, opportunities for displaying the love of Jesus and declaring the gospel are often more evident, but we actively participate in global mission as well.

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This July 31-Aug 10 our mission team will be headed to SE Asia to host our annual Awakening Conference. The focus of this conference will be to build up and pour into persecuted underground house church leaders. This 5-day conference will center on the theme “Walking with Jesus in Hard Places.” Our brothers and sisters are risking their lives everyday to carry the message of the gospel to the people of their country. We will also have over 20 ministry and missionary children that our team will lead in a Backyard Bible Club. We feel so honored that God allows us a continued partnership in a part of the world where it’s very difficult to follow Jesus. 

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God Reigns.’” Isaiah 52:7

I have found that short-term mission trips not only bless the missionaries we serve, but they also ignite a missional bonfire in the hearts of the people who go. Our focus on global missions doesn’t take away the difficulties of our young church, but it does give us a better Kingdom perspective and reason to exist beyond keeping our lights on.

Thank you for your partnership that affords us the opportunity to live out our 4(D) mission in Bellevue, WA and around the world. Please join us in praying for our local and global work to make disciples.


SE Asia Mission Prayer Guide

  • God would be glorified by EVERY aspect of our trip 
  • Each of us, as well as the nationals with whom we work and share
    with would have a personal and powerful encounter with God 
  • The unconditional love of God would radiate in and through each of our lives 
  • God would put a hedge of protection around the entire trip 
  • Satan would be bound from anything that distracts anyone from hearing the voice of God in the area where we’ll be sharing 
  • All participating on this trip would be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit 
  • God’s Word would be proclaimed with power and produce life change
  • God would give us strength and good health through the trip 
  • God would protect and provide for family members back home 
  • God would give wisdom to those speaking and teaching and listening ears to the people we come in contact with during the trip 
  • Divine appointments, both with those we share with as well as other
    we might encounter while traveling 
  • All team members and translators would be bold and creative in
    sharing our faith 
  • We would make quick adjustments to time and cultural changes 
  • That revival would break out with people to whom we minister

The Main Thing

the main thing

Awakening Church will turn 1 year old on September 30th. We often reflect on all God has done within the past several months. In His faithfulness and our pursuit of Him we are learning much during this first year of ministry in Bellevue, WA. This past month has been a whirlwind as summer has officially begun. We had our first funeral, first baby dedication, and a mission team from Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN came to serve with us at our first Backyard Bible Club. The team helped us accomplish much more than we could have on our own. Through the city of Bellevue, we connected with 5 different families that were unable to do various projects at their homes. Them mission team joined in as we met the needs of these families in our community. The new relationships and no-strings-attached love we shared through these acts of service were such a blessing to us all. We are so thankful for all of our partners that join us in different ways to enable us to lay the foundation of Awakening Church.

Throughout this difficult first season, we have needed to be intentional about our daily prioritieskeeping the main thing the main thing. Our to-do lists fill up so quickly and we can feel like we are drowning. In the onslaught of things coming our way, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s most important. We have great intentions and then…life happens. We get busy. Our children need to get somewhere. Something unexpected happens. Our good intentions quickly fall away. We fall back into the life of a firefighter…putting out fires of the urgent needs all around us.

With that in mind, we’ve created a priority list to help keep the main thing the main thing. No matter what your calling or place of ministry, these priorities can be applied to help keep the main thing the main thing.

  1. Don’t skip a day in the ministry of the Word

Acts 6:4, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 

Have you ever been so thirsty that you could think of nothing else but getting your hands on a drink of water? This is what I often pray and encourage…that we would experience for the Word and presence of God. When we become passionate about something it naturally becomes a priority, but when we are indifferent, it becomes more like a chore. When I am thirsty, no one needs to convince me to go get a drink. My thirst drives me to go and get one. Prioritizing God’s presence really has little to do with how busy we are, it has to do with how dependent we are. When we start to dry up spiritually, it’s usually so subtle, we don’t even notice. Be reminded of how incredible His grace truly is and how dependent we are on Him.

  1. Pray for Wisdom

James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Church planting, pastoring, and shepherding requires wisdom that is not naturally within me. But I need it! While trying to navigate this life, I need the knowledge, discernment and resolve that only God can give. Time and time again, God reminds me that He never fails in achieving his intended goals. When I steer off course, it doesn’t take long for me to realize it. Praying for wisdom as a husband, father, and pastor really is essential for me to lead in my calling. In Proverbs 16, we are reminded that “wisdom is better than gold.” I need a reminder of the value of wisdom.

  1. Expect the Unexpected

1 Corinthians 1:25, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 

God doesn’t do things the way we think he should. He often works in unexpected ways but always exceeds our expectations. I never dreamed that my life would have been to and through so many tough situations. I find myself in those moments questioning God, His love, and His grace. In pride, our questioning God’s desires and ways is saying we know better than Him. As I reflect on this season of life…the struggles, disappointments, victories, faith, and hope, I must remember that God is God and I am not. 

He doesn’t always do things the way we expect, but when it comes to God, we know to expect the unexpected. Faith in God doesn’t always make us safe, but it does make us secure. Because of His faithfulness and goodness, we can trust and obey without complete understanding.

  1. See the Green Grass Around Me

Proverbs 27:23, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds.”

Early on in our ministry, it seemed as though we didn’t have what we needed to be effective. But one day God reminded me that the gifts were in the house. We just have to know our people well enough and intentionally help them discover their giftedness. We already had what we needed.

I began to look at my church differently. I began to see how God had in fact given us everything we needed. There have been discouraging days where I couldn’t see what God was doing. But He reminded me that everything I need, I already have. It’s going to take lots of developing. It’s going to take bucket loads of grace. It’s gonna take a lot of shepherding… But this is what we are called to do.

  1. Keep an Outward Focus

Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The goal of missions is that all nations would worship Jesus. The commission that’s been given to us calls us to “go” and “make disciples.” It’s been said that we don’t need a passport if we have a dining room table. We are called by God to be deployed in our normal everyday lives among the people in our own cities. Our outward focus is and intentional investing, real-life, day-by-day, on-purpose time with unbelievers and younger believers to help them grow into maturity. This includes modeling how to disciple others in the same way.

  1. Take care of my family

1 Timothy 3:5, “for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

Every pastor says their wife and kids are more important than their job. We say things like, “My church can get another pastor, but my kids only have one dad, my wife has one husband…” Yet this balance demands constant attention with hard lines. Our family has uniquenesses that create many challenges but also great opportunities as we use those challenges for pathways of ministry.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it…church planting is really hard, but also really worth it. Our biggest struggles have helped us to create this list of daily priorities as we fight various internal and external battles. For all the burdens we carry, we experience far more blessings. 

On a more personal level, the experience of church planting is increasingly strengthening my faith. I have to trust God in unprecedented ways and take my hands off of situations that, in my flesh, I want to manipulate. God meets me—and all of us—in the midst of our confusions and challenges. He truly gives us peace that surpasses all understanding.

Please pray for us—that we’d be bold, willing, joyful, and expectant of what God will do in and through us. Thank you for committing to this journey with us for the glory of God in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

GOSPEL INTENTIONALITY

Awakening Church Update – May 20, 2019 from Jonah Easley on Vimeo.

When the Lord first called our family to the Seattle area to plant a church, we knew that the task set before us was going to require an amount of faithfulness and patience like we’d never experienced before. After being on the ground for almost 2 years, we can see why. We are constantly asking…How do we take the gospel to people that are far from God in a culture that seems opposed or apathetic?

Although we are swimming upstream, we are committed to reaching our multi-ethnic community with the gospel. Over the past 8 months, God has been transforming the hearts of people within our church and across our city. Each week we are engaging multiple people groups in Bible study, a childrens Bible club, city groups and Sunday worship. Just this past week, we saw 11 people give their lives to Jesus! We have committed to pray for, invest in, and intentionally help people discover how great the love of Jesus truly is.

We have found that Living on mission is not about doing MORE, it’s about doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.

God’s plan for the church is not that we would invite people to a program at a building. It’s far more personal and relational than that. God’s plan is that we would enter into people’s everyday lives, show them what a life changed by the gospel looks like, invite them to come and see, and share the gospel of Jesus that has changed us.

Doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality is costly and risky. It costs time and comfort. It would be much easier to go about our day never engaging people with the gospel…never inviting them into our homes for meals…never listening to their stories and ideas…never being vulnerable about our own weaknesses as followers of Jesus.

But… as we commit to helping others grow in their relationship with God, we are reminded of our calling to be good stewards of the gospel. Your prayers, support, and equipping have no doubt played an invaluable role in our desire to show and share the gospel of grace in our city… so that every man, woman, and child would have a daily encounter with Jesus. That’s no small vision, but we serve a great God!

Thank you for your passion to equip church planters and for being faithful to the Biblical mandate of planting churches! We’re excited to continue to serve alongside you as we join Christ in the renewal of all things.

  1. Please join us in praying for those that we are engaging each week. We are asking God to open their hearts to Him.
  2. Pray for those that we have led to Jesus as they begin to grow in Christ.
  3. Pray for our faithfulness as we lovingly fight against an apathetic culture.
  4. Pray for more partnering church to come along side us for sustainability in the years to come.