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

Copy of Fast for awakening-2

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

SMALL CHURCH, BIG MISSION

big mission

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.

Copy of Copy of Copy of aw ak

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.

The Endless Love of God

CRAFTING a goodApril was an incredible month for Awakening Church. As we celebrated the resurrection, we’ve had countless conversations with people who have never heard the glorious good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is a natural time of year for gospel conversations to occur. Easter Sunday was a beautiful day filled with many relationships that God has been building over the past couple years. You can listen to the message here. By God’s grace, we were able to lead several people to faith in Jesus this month. 

After one of our ESL classes, one of our regular students from Iran approached Kathy after the class. With a smile on his face, he wanted to thank her for teaching the class and shared that he had been in America for about 5 years. However, today he finally understood what Easter was all about. What an encouragement to see people grasping the truth of Jesus. For faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

A few months ago, God brought a young lady named Amanda Into our lives. The week that we met, I had just begun reading a new book by Paul Tripp entitled, Suffering. I had not been in a season of suffering personally, but still I felt compelled to read the book. Not three days after beginning this book, I received a phone call telling me that Amanda was just diagnosed with stage four cancer. Things didn’t look good. We knew that Amanda didn’t have a relationship with Jesus so we began to pray for her physical healing as well as her spiritual healing. I bought the book for Amanda and had one of her friends read it to her in her hospital room. At times, she was angry with God, and didn’t want to hear it…but she began to become more open to the conversations about Jesus. Through the countless prayers, fasting, conversations, late nights in the hospital, and the roller coaster that suffering brings she said YES to Jesus. Our hearts are rejoicing. That same week we saw two other young ladies that have faced tremendous hardship say yes to Jesus! Thank you for your support that allows us the opportunity to bring the gospel to people that need Jesus.

 

Copy of china interest-2

This summer we will have an opportunity once again to serve our partners in China. Our partnership in China involves equipping and encouraging those on the ground that face increasing challenges of persecution. It’s my passion to help others that are not mobilized for the great commission. As we prayerfully build this team, YOU may feel led to partner with us or be able to connect other people that may be interested in partnering together for this amazing opportunity.

A quick contextual scope…Since 2013, The Chinese Communist Party reversed course and embarked on a 3-phase, 14-year plan to “suffocate” Three Self churches and “annihilate” underground churches. During the first 2-year phase, it further eased persecution of the underground church, enticing more of them to surface and be identified. During the second 2-year phase, it invited and then pressured the identified underground churches to register and become Three Self churches.

In the current third, 10-year phase, the gloves have come off as both the remaining underground churches and even Three Self churches are being persecuted using Mao-era brute-force, as well as mass surveillance, artificial intelligence, and big data.

The greatest need of the underground church in China today isn’t free Bibles or even protection from persecution, which tends to purify, spread and grow the church, but Biblical teachers, including missionaries, who can exegete the Bible and share the True Gospel.

The foundation of our partnership is just that…better equipping those that serve on the front lines every day. I hope that you will pray about joining us as we deploy across the world in the name of Jesus.

Click HERE for more information. This could be a great way for us to join hands and serve together. The applications need to be submitted by May 5. The application can be found at here.

How can we pray?

One of the questions I often get from partners is, “how can we be praying for Awakening Church?”  The response is typically three-fold.  One, pray for partnerships.  Without partnerships, this work is not possible. We are continually asking God to bless our partners so that we can continue to be blessed and empowered through them.

Secondly, we are always asking for prayer for new believers. It is why we are here!  We are praying for death-to-life stories. Many days, the only thing that keeps us going is that Jesus told us His fields were white and ready for harvest. We believe there is a harvest in the Northwest.  We long to see more baptisms in 2019.

Thirdly, we pray for laborers.  We need people to come be a part of Awakening Church both locally and others to relocate to serve alongside us.  Whatever it takes for God to build His church and multiply disciple-making churches, we say yes!

Alongside that third prayer request, we always praying for the unity of our team and the endurance it takes to fight the spiritual attacks we so often experience.

Thank you again for your partnership and commitment to going the journey with us. That support is the wind in our sails!

The WHY

THE WHY

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Acts 17:26

It’s pretty amazing to think about life. We have no control over when or where we were born. There is so much we have no control over. However, somethings we do control are our passions, our friends, and many other daily choices. There are things in our life that only Jesus can fix. It’s been said that the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out WHY you were born. We didn’t have control over the circumstances surrounding the day we were physically born, but through our second birth, salvation in Jesus, we then discover why we were born!

God, in his sovereignty, has placed us right here, right now, with our abilities and gifts to bring glory to Him and show the joy of the gospel to those around us. In his book Start With Why, Simon Sinek shares how successful leaders don’t focus on HOW to do something… Instead they focus on WHY they are doing it. Sharing Christ with those around us begins with our understanding God’s grand story that centers on Christ. That is our WHY.

In Philippians chapter 3, we see Paul’s WHY was to know Christ and to make him known. His why was big enough to endure overwhelming persecution with glorious joy. If you are alive today (you are if you are reading this) and you have a relationship with Jesus… He has given us the responsibility of a missionary.

“Where you live doesn’t make you a missionary; the mission you are on does, regardless of your vocation or location.” Alvin Reid

As a church, we have been focusing on living out the gospel in our daily lives as missionaries. We are praying daily that God will give us opportunities to share the good news of Jesus, wisdom to know how to approach those around us, and boldness to speak up. We have to remember that we are not selling something people may or may not need. Instead, we are offering the gift of grace that is the most vital news a person could ever know.

We continually look for ways to serve our community and bring joy to those around us. We are beginning to see the fruit of displaying the love of Jesus to our community. Through our displaying and joy bringing, we are able to declare the gospel message of salvation in Jesus. I’m excited about two new opportunities that God has opened up for us this past month.

The first opportunity is a Bible Club for an after school kids program. This club is focused on learning the Word of God. We incorporate prayer, crafts, games as well as memorizing a weekly Bible Verse. We’ve added a prayer mailbox where kids can write a prayer request that we pray over (which can be entertaining). Each week children from many cultural backgrounds attend the Bible Club. They are hearing the truth of scripture and asking amazing questions as their worldviews are being challenged and enlightened. A muslim boy asked, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” We shared what it meant to be a follower of Jesus and studied Romans 10:9 that says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The hearts of these children are being stirred! 

The second opportunity God has given us is a weekly ESL Bible study. Over the past several months, God has continually brought us new relationships with the multi-ethnic people groups of our city. While this class focuses primarily on the basics of the faith, we are able to incorporate the basics of English at the same time. We are teaching basic Bible studies in everyday English in an easy-to-understand discipleship course. This class is specifically designed for people who are exploring the fundamentals of the faith. Each week has been filled with incredible discussion and a stronger craving for God’s word. We’ve been able to give out many dual language Bibles and develop new relationships. On top of that, a couple of the students have begun attending our Sunday worship service. They are being enraptured by the truth of the gospel and their hearts are being transformed by God’s grace.

Thank you for continuing to partner with us. We pray that you are encouraged just as we are. We also pray that through our journey, you will be stirred and challenged in your faith. 

Please join us in praying for…

  • …these two new ministry opportunities that God has given us. Pray for the salvation of those without Christ and that they would realize their WHY.
  • … our calling as missionaries. This calling can be challenging with unexpected circumstances…but Jesus is worth it. God is continuing to bring families and individuals into our lives that need to experience the grace that Christ is offering them.
  • … a handful of mature believers to come alongside of us to partner in growing new disciples and developing leaders.

TURF WAR

music • comedy • magic poetry • dance

There are many ideas as to what the “correct” priority list in life should be. We are constantly searching for and evaluating what deserves our attention from moment to moment (Even if we don’t do this intentionally, our priorities are easily seen by those closest to us).  As the values of society seen to evolve by the minute, so can our affections. We can put valuable time and focus on things that offer us a fruitless return. There’s a daily turf war on the battlefield of our hearts…and unfortunately the values of this world are fighting for residence in the hearts of God’s people. 

I love goals. And as a church, we set goals. However, with numerical, financial, and baptism goals, we may be complicating what God intended to be so simple. I can be so focused on achieving my goal, I’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish it. In the process, I find it easy to  give my time, energy, and love to a multitude of “good goals” that aren’t always rooted in simply loving God and the people around me.

When asked about the most important commandment in all of Scripture, Jesus responded, 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). 

Our entire life is reduced down to this one (or two) pursuit(s). In other words, everything we do is meant to be marked by the simplicity of loving God. In this daily turf war, our actions don’t always communicate that our love for God matters more than any achievement or success. But in reality, our love for God matters more than any possession, status, or relationship on earth. When we align our lives with the first and greatest commandment, everything else comes becomes clear. Jesus continues with his next statement to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) It plays out like faith and works; if we truly have the first (a love for God), the second will naturally follow (a love for people). John Bloom wrote,

“The most loving thing we can do for others is love God more than we love them. For if we love God most, we will love others best.”

In the early days of church planting we are challenged to spend much time strategizing and developing ministry plans, marketing campaigns, and attendance-building events to draw people to our church. These “multitude of good things” are well intentioned means to get the gospel farther, faster. Nonetheless, Relationships are the context in which life is lived…and ministry takes place in the context of those relationships. We must make people our priority in living, leading, and loving. Relationships require great time-consuming investments that are sure to be filled with vulnerabilities, hurts, smiles, and joy.

Even in the most well-intended ministries, we can create our own success metrics and ask them to give us what only God can. If our eyes drift from Jesus, we tend to look around us to find the approval, acceptance, and love from those around us. But our heavenly Father is the source of the greatest love and affection for us.

May we come to realize the success metric which Jesus has called us…to faithfully and whole-heartedly love Him and those around us. True fulfillment is received in a life lived in pursuit of God as we surrender to Him each and every day.

  • Please pray for Awakening Church. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, pray as we develop new and existing relationships for His kingdom expansion. 
  • This past month we started a new Bible study with several ESL students (none of which are yet believers). Please join us in praying for the softening of their hearts and and openness to the gospel.
  • This week we are beginning a focus in our city groups on sharing Jesus. Please pray for boldness as we live on mission each day across Seattle.
  • PRAISE- God has met a great need with His provision of a Sunday childcare worker for our daughter. This will open greater doors for my wife, Kathy, to have greater involvement with Awakening Church.
  • PRAISE- I had an encouraging time at the Send Network Gathering in Las Vegas, NV this month. I’m so thankful for a network that prioritizes planting churches. But just as important, a network that invests in the spiritual and emotional health of it’s planters so the planting continues! #sendnetwork