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On July 9th, 25 of our students embarked on a trip to Carlisle, Ohio—a village located in the North Cincinnati area. At first glance, Carlisle appears as a rural town, just minutes from a myriad of stores and attractions. The village has the stereotypical small town pride—local shops, Friday night lights, and everyone knows everyone. The only other evident thing about Carlisle are the trains. There is a train that goes by somewhere in this town all the time. Conversations just pause until the train has gone on its way. So many trains… The last apparent truth of Carlisle is that the members of Church in the Village-Carlisle LOVE Carlisle. They love their school, their old homes, their town’s history, their neighbors, and even the trains. They wore shirts saying— “I Love This Village.” This was most evident when our group met Pastor Eric Clarkson on the first morning of our trip. Pastor Eric spelled out to our group what he valued and he presented two goals for the week: meet as many people in Carlisle as possible and learn to love their village.

The mission work began shortly after. Our group’s role was to assist in the church’s kid’s clubs. There were 50-60 kids, from preK to 5th grade. Our group led recreation through games of silent ball, kickball, Duck, Duck, Goose, and more. The students also assisted with craft and were the “runners,” helping to lead their herd of children from each station. Each morning our students worked with the same groups of kids, learning their names, what they like, playing with them, and listening to them. In some cases our students served as human jungle-gyms and professional piggy-backers—for the gospel!

Two afternoons that week we visited Allistrong. Allistrong is a free store in Carlisle that provides a variety of clothes and goods to people in need of assistance. This ministry is supported by just a few retired volunteers, and the woman who primarily ran the store was blessed by the work our group was able to do for them this week (sorting clothes, cleaning, removing boxes…).

Our nights were spent doing a variety of different activities. Some evenings we canvassed the neighborhoods, leaving door-hanger surveys. On Wednesday evening our group joined Church in the Village Carlisle for their worship service where we met on the side lawn of one of the members, sang some songs, listened to Pastor Eric preach the Word, and played some wiffleball. On Thursday night, we hosted a block party for the families of the kids that attended our kid’s clubs every morning that week. Our students hung out with the kids while members of the church built connections to the parents, talking over snow cones and hot dogs.

Through these different ministry opportunities our students experienced a lot of Carlisle, which meant meeting a lot of the people of Carlisle. A lot of aspects of the week were laid back and flexible. However; even when our group was just hanging out with the church members and their families—they were hanging with a purpose. A major aspect of Church in the Village is intentional “hanging out.” So even in the breaks between the ministry work, a different type of ministry was occurring. The members of the Church in the Village sought to get to know our group better each day—playing games with them, asking them about their lives, telling them stories—and as a result our group was reminded of a mission work that we could emulate each day. We may not be able to host a kid’s club in our subdivision every morning, we may not be able to host a weekly block party, but we can hang out more. We can build relationships with those around us—whether it is a neighbor, a classmate, or a coworker—intentionally hanging out with those around us could be one of our most efficient vehicles for delivering the gospel. A mission trip is often tiring from the nonstop work, late nights, and early mornings; but those trips end. Our group was reminded that we are always on mission and that while we spent a week serving alongside the Church in the Village Carlisle, we have a daily opportunity in our own village to reach people, care for them, and share with them the truth of the Gospel.

And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” – Luke 9:6 (ESV)

Posted by Alec Erhart with 0 Comments
main image not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

 And then there’s... instant messaging.  I think back to one of the first times, if not the first time, that I really used “instant messaging” to my advantage in our family life, to help me and my wife deal with a rather overwhelming “storm” of life that had gathered on the horizon but was now trying to “blow” us away.

I was in Bible school in Dallas, working a couple of jobs.  It was about the middle of December, one of my favorite times of the year.  I had a wonderful two year old daughter, was married to the girl of my dreams, and she was pregnant with our second child, who would be born in January, less than a month away.  Life was busy and tough but life was really good.

Our oldest daughter Angela had taken ill.  She had a fever, which you know as a parent or grandparent or parent to be, is not all that unusual with children.  There are a lot of germs out there and it’s only a matter of time before some health issue arises that you have to deal with.  You just do the regular “stuff”.  Proper medicine, proper hydration, proper rest, and before you know it...she would be back on her feet.

Only this time...that didn’t happen.  Little Angela kept getting sicker and weaker...and finally we were instructed to take her to the hospital.  I remember lifting her into my arms and she was just as limp as a rag and unresponsive...I felt helpless and my mind was beginning to wander to places I didn’t want it to go.  Is she okay?  What’s going to happen?  How bad is it? And then...will she recover?

After several days of testing, the diagnosis was presented...she had spinal meningitis and they couldn’t guarantee any particular outcome at the moment.  I can’t speak for Sherri, but I was stunned and taken back...I just didn’t expect to hear those words.  They couldn’t be sure what might happen?  It was more serious than I had ever anticipated.

That’s where the “instant messaging” came in...Sherri and I held hands and “instant messaged” the Lord...that’s what prayer is...a continuous...throughout the day...conversation with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He is available in a the time when we needed Him the most. We poured out our thoughts and request to Him...and yielded ourselves to His will.  We had discovered through previous “instant messaging” and reading His written message, the Bible, “that He would work all things together for good for those that love Him,” Romans 8:28.  We really believed that with all of our heart and that brought to our lives a “peace that surpasses understanding”.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (ESV)


We spent the next 10 days in the hospital...through the Christmas season...and Angela recovered.  We thankfully took her home with little physical consequence realized in her life.  We “instant messaged” our thanks and gratitude to the Lord and continued to tell all who would listen that God is good...all the time.

I’ve often thought back to those days as well as others, with the realization of what a wonderful invitation and gift He offers to us to come to Him and receive rest...and how often I have accessed that gift through an instant message...where we walk with Him and talk with Him along life’s journey.  What a blessing.  What a help in time of need.

 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (ESV)



Like a lot of you, I instant message or text some of my friends all the time.  It’s not just during the time of crisis but when “whatever” or “anything” is happening.  It keeps the relationship vibrant and growing.  In fact, I have quite a few people that if I needed something...I feel like I could instant message them anytime and they would help if they could.

I’ve done the same thing with the Lord.  I instant message Him all the time...I pray, talk with Him...not just in the time of crisis...but because He is my friend and my Lord.  And when there are times, which there are, when no one else can help in any with Angela...or with providing a way to go to heaven...I turn to the One, the only One... who can meet the need of my heart and my life.

Give it a try.  Start “instant messaging” the Lord today.  It doesn’t have to be a time of crisis...just let the relationship grow and deepen...and know that if a “storm” comes into your life...He is just an “instant” away and He will listen and He will answer.

Who doesn’t need a little “peace” in their life?  Who doesn’t need a little “security” in their life? Who doesn’t need a refuge?  Who doesn’t need forgiveness of their sin and salvation?  Who is without need of help?  That would be no one, and all that you need can be found through your relationship to why not “instant message” Him all throughout the day and treasure the relationship you have with Him. It really doesn’t take any time at all...just an instant.

Posted by Ralph Sawyer with 0 Comments

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