Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What an Experience!

Last week Jeff Murphy and I attended a conference for church leaders at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge. The conference was called the "HPC Experience" because we got to experience the way Healing Place does things. They're a fast growing church that's doing a lot of things to impact their community. They get asked all the time to share how they do some of the things Joel Dyke, Nathan Martin, Jeff Murphy and Dino Rizzo they do and they've created this conference to provide some hands-on experience. It was a wonderful conference.

In addition to the ideas we picked up and the inspiration we gained I also got to visit with an old friend from my Mexico missionary days. Joel Dyke and I served in south Mexico as missionaries during the late 1980's. I returned to Pineville in November of 1990 and Joel now pastors Life Church West Monroe. We got to spend a lot of time together, including a wonderful evening with HPC Pastor Dino Rizzo in his home.

One of the things that came out of this conference was a deeper understanding of our vision with regard to the community. I had a clear understanding of how we were to relate to one another within our four walls, but I wasn't clear on what Christian Challenge was supposed to look like to the larger community. The HPC Experience helped me gain a clear perspective of how we are to relate to our neighbors. And it can be summed up in one word: CARE. Christian Challenge Cares. We want to reach out to our community with an open hand, seeking to serve without expecting anything in return.

Christian Challenge CARE Team Out of this is coming an exciting outreach philosphy. We are forming the "Christian Challenge CARE Team". Whenever we have an opportunity to touch our community with the love of Jesus, we want to do that as part of the Christian Challenge CARE Team. We've ordered yellow t-shirts with that phrase on the back, with the word "CARE" being the largest. We want to demonstrate with our actions that Jesus cares for those around us. He cares for the thirsty, the hungry, the poor, the hurting. We desire to be a tangible demonstration of that very real care that He has towards all people. The Lord said it best through the prophet Ezekiel when He said, "As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered..." (Ezek 34:12 NASB)

I'm excited about what the Lord has for Christian Challenge. I look forward to demonstrating the love of care of Jesus. I thank God for Jeff Murphy who went with me. He has really caught the vision and is providing valuable leadership to our efforts. I appreciate my friend Joel Dyke for telling me about the HPC Experience and for being a friend who always believed in me. I thank God for Dino Rizzo for inspiring me to believe that we really can touch our community. Fasten your seatbelts, Christian Challenge! It's about to get exciting!!!

Blessings,
Nathan
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