Healing Hearts in Houston

Healing Hearts in Houston

“I feel that God has forgotten me,” declared Mr. G. We stood in his disrepaired living room, plastic tarps covering furniture and the walls down to the studs. It had been over six weeks since Hurricane Harvey swept through southeast Houston, Texas, destroying and breaking down homes, businesses, and hearts. Mr. G’s home was in the path of the devastation, leaving him and his 11-year-old daughter, Steph, with little left.

SAMS, Trinity School for Ministry, and Christ Church Plano all felt a calling to serve. The 12 person team arrived in Houston to Missio Dei Anglican Church, a church who has been called to serve those affected by the hurricane in the city. While we were still unsure of who we would be helping, God soon led us to Mr. G and Steph. As we drove through their neighborhood, some homes seemed perfectly fine, while others had a pile of debris several feet high. The houses reminded us of people. While someone may look fine on the outside, you may never know what struggles they are facing on the inside. Mr. G’s house and spirit had been hit hard.

On our first day, he told us about his heart surgery he recently had and his other health ailments, preventing him from doing much of the repairs, despite having the skills in construction. The look of defeat was prominent on his face as he slouched over and held his chest. Throughout the week we worked to replace drywall and to establish a functioning bath and kitchen alongside Mr. G who taught us some new skills.

When each day was over, the family joined us back at Missio Dei for dinner, and one night we set aside a time for communion. Steph was curious to explore the church, and she noticed the altar prepared for communion. This was an opportunity for me to tell her that we are all imperfect people, but someone came to save us; that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead, that he gave us the gift of communion and the Holy Spirit who is always with us, and that he promises to return one day. Mr. G and Steph took part in communion with us, and we prayed over Mr. G for his heart both physically and spiritually. As we prayed and sang, it was moving to see them both lift their hand up to God in thanks and surrender, and day after day see Mr. G’s slouching diminish.

By the end of the week, there was an obvious change in Mr. G and Steph. The Lord had encouraged them and reminded them that they were not forgotten, but that God loves them and even sent others to care for them. Their house still has a lot of work to be done, but those at Missio Dei continue to pour out their love as they work alongside Mr. G and other teams to see that they return home. I praise the Lord for taking broken things and making them new again.

Missio Dei is looking for teams to help partner with them to help people like Mr. G and Steph. If your church is feeling called to send a team to Missio Dei Anglican Church, contact Lynn Bouterse at 724-266-0669 today.

By Sarah Norris, Writer and Communications Specialist. 
Partnering with Trinity School for Ministry: Houston Relief Effort Mission

Partnering with Trinity School for Ministry: Houston Relief Effort Mission

Dear Friends in Christ,

Sometimes I get discouraged watching the news. Recent events can make it difficult to want to face what is happening in this broken world, but God calls us to go into the dark places in order to be a light to those in the midst of turmoil.

This upcoming week I will be heading to Houston alongside our short-term ministries coordinator to serve alongside Trinity School for Ministry students. We will be heading to the southeastern part of the city to do relief effort from Hurricane Harvey. Houston is the 4th largest city in America, with a population of over 2 million. In the southeastern part alone there are over 15,000 people. These people have lost everything. Their homes destroyed, and their belongings swept away with the water. SAMS has helped with the training to prepare for this mission. We will be partnering with Christ Church Plano and Missio Dei Anglican Church in Houston to help restore the homes of those in the neighborhood. The training consisted of team building, logistics, team roles, and spiritual development. While at the training, the team had a surprise visit from Archbishop Foley Beach from the Anglican Church in North America. He prayed with us and for all the people we will serve.

One thing that kept coming to me and the rest of the team was the word “presence.” Will you join me in praying for this mission? How might we be encouraged to bring God’s presence no matter where we go? I pray His presence will be overflowing and those who have felt nothing but loss soon feel the comfort and hope of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Your Partner in Christ,

Sarah Norris

Writer and Communications Specialist

Called to Community

Called to Community

Today there are billions of people on earth, so why do some of us still feel lonely? We pack our schedules with bible studies, community group, church, and volunteer projects, but we still can feel a void.

God didn’t intend for us to be alone. We were created to crave community with others. Whether single or married, we are all in need of community, but what does community look like?

The Nicene Creed summarizes the Trinity this way:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father…. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.

The Trinity means that God is in a community; and because God is three in one, this means God is community. So, even before the creation of man, there was a perfect community. If Genesis 1:26 says that God made us in his image, then he must want us to be acommunity as well.

What prevents us from this is that we are a fallen people. We tend to want to meet our own needs first, and when they aren’t met, we move on to the next thing that comes our way. We live in a broken world consisting of broken relationships. Our sinful nature keeps us separated from God—true community. Think about when Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She was tempted to have unbelief about God and his true intentions for us.

There is good news, though, and redemption for community which can bring us into a relationship with God and others. When we repent and acknowledge our sinfulness, we can turn to God who sent his son to die on the cross for our debts. Jesus has redeemed us from our sin and unbelief and has called us for a life everlasting with him. When we acknowledge this, we experience the transforming love of Christ. Community grounded in Him fosters love and encouragement that can then be shared with all nations.

It can be difficult to grow in community, but it is God’s desire for us. When we grow in community, we are growing in him!

SAMS would like to build community with you. Every day, we pray for our missionaries and senders. We want to pray for you too. Send us your prayer requests here.

Thank You!

Thank You!

It is less than three weeks until I depart for Thailand. Thank you so much to all of you who have supported me financially and in prayer. I have less than $500 to raise before being fully funded, and I am amazed by God’s provision and the generosity of my family, friends, and church community.

The purpose of this mission goes beyond my 9-10 month internship, and it is a gift to see God’s people coming together to help the church in Thailand make an impact on the community. You are each a part of this ministry and I would not be where I am without your support and involvement in this process.

Please continue to pray for me as my departure approaches, especially for preparations to continue smoothly and for safety as I travel. Please also pray for the ministry in Thailand and for the university students that I will be working with. I am praying that we are able to overcome language and cultural barriers to build genuine friendships, and that the love of Christ will be evident to them through the work that I do.

Thank you for your love, encouragement, and prayers as I step out into the [somewhat] unknown and follow God’s call. I am continually grateful for the people in my life, without whom I might never have taken this step and who have played a huge role in the discernment and preparation process.

I plan to keep up with blog posts pretty frequently during the course of my internship to keep you all in the loop. Stay tuned to hear more about my ministry in Thailand!

Facing a Task Unfinished

Facing a Task Unfinished

In June, I attended the ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) Provincial Assembly in Wheaton, IL along with several other SAMS missionaries and 1400 Anglicans!  While it made for some very long days, I have to say that I was so encouraged in so many ways.  The theme of “Mission on our Doorstep” addressed needs and opportunities both locally and globally.
That’s a lot of Anglicans!
I’m not sure about you, but sometimes I find the state of the world–and even the church–to be demoralizing.  There are so many people with so many real needs–addicted, broken (relationships/families), persecuted, refugees, hungry, poor, marginalized/outcast, forgotten, sick, dying, confused, foreigner…the list goes on.  Sometimes the needs are so overwhelming, the temptation is to throw up our hands and do nothing because will our small efforts really make a difference?

But what is so beautiful and ingenious about God’s design of His Church is that it is a Body, made of many members.  I was reminded of that and the strength that we have when we are surrounded by and connected to a body of believers under Christ’s lordship.  As I sat in on workshops and plenary sessions and met people at meals, I was so encouraged to see different ministries that are addressing these needs and making a difference.  So, maybe I can’t meet every need that exists, but I’m a part of a larger Body who is!

This takes some pressure off, but equally begs the questions, “What’s my role?”  Until Jesus returns, there will always be unfinished tasks and unmet needs.  May we seek Him to know how we can join what He is doing through the Church to meet these needs.  May we always share His heart to know Him and make Him known, for Him to be exalted in the nations and on the earth.

One of my favorite hymn remakes is Facing a Task Unfinished.