Monday, November 19, 2012

The Caring Closet

"It's not just giving clothes. It is giving emotional and biblical support," said Jeannie Ashenfelder about Bethany UMC's outreach mission.

On the last Saturday of every month except December, Bethany UMC opens its doors for people in the community to shop for free clothing and household items. The church had considered pricing everything at ten cents to raise funds but decided instead to simply provide the items no cost. "It's really become like a family" said Ashendfelder. "Some of the people who started as shoppers, now help out as volunteers. They're so appreciative and want to give back."

The program not only helps guests financially but also spiritually. Shoppers may submit written prayer requests on the prayer wall. "Often times we see a volunteer and a few shoppers in a circle in the back of the room praying together," said Ashenfelder.

The mission started small, but spread by word of mouth. "We currently serve about 80 people on a Saturday, "said Ashenfelder. The church has also begun adding a food component to the ministry. In the summer the church grilled hot dogs in the pavilion for guests. Throughout the winter the church will provide packaged home cooked meals for the shoppers to re-heat at home.

The ministry serves the community's needs in many ways. "Word has spread beyond Marysville to many surrounding locations," said Ashenfelder. Eventually the church hopes to have a separate building for the Caring Closet so that it can be more accessible to the community. It will happen with God's timing. It's amazing to see how often things just come together. God surely is in control, said Ashenfelder.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hearts Strangely Warmed

I am blessed to have a job like this. I am inspired by the people I meet through both Susquehanna Xpress and interviews for our bi-monthly newspaper called the LINK.

 I just finished an article for our "Hearts Strangely Warmed" section. In this series I strive to convey stories of people's lives who have been radically transformed by our living God. It is an awesome responsibility to articulate someone's testimony. I'm continually in awe of the amazing ways God reveals his love for us. The stories inspire me and I hope that they warm your soul as well.

 As I thought about how invigorating it was to hear about God's grace and love in the interviewees lives, I realized how important it is for each of us to share our testimony. I believe that we encounter people on a weekly basis, who need to hear an encouraging story. By sharing how God has continued to love us during our low moments, we let others know that they are not alone in their struggles. Even if the person isn't struggling, your short testimony may add a little spice to their spiritual walk and remind them that our God is active, alive, and working to turn mundane into extraordinary.

Thanks for sharing your stories. Now go out and share them with the world!

You can also e-mail me and share your story with the cyber community through a Susquehanna Xpress webcast.

God bless!

Monday, November 5, 2012

November Days of Thankfulness

Yesterday was our annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner. My dad always reads some sort of story or poem before the blessing and subsequent rush to the food table. This year, he said that our society is beginning to forget the "Thanks" part of the holiday. He said that many think of the day simply as a time of gathering with family and friends for a nice meal, followed by the expected tryptophan coma and nap. We stuff our bellies full but sometimes forget how lucky we are to have such an abundance of food every day. 

Yet, there are some people that still strive to keep the holiday as a time to pause and recognize the many blessings we take for granted. I've been enjoying the recent social media trend of 30 days of thankfulness. So, I would like to share a Susquehanna Xpress themed version. Although, I'm going to do it all at once instead of spreading it out over the month for the sake of this post.

I'm thankful for...

1. Pastor Pat Woolever who encouraged me to seek my God-given gifts and then use them for His Kingdom.

2. Jerry Wolgemuth, Director of Communications, for taking the time to speak with me about my search for a communication's internship as a way to grow my gifts.

3. Jerry's continual mentoring through my internship and now job here in the communications field.

4. Jerry's leap of faith to start a new webcast venture.

5. Ashley Brooks time spent editing all of the webcast videos.

6. Office-mate Sandii Peiffer's willingness to create background slates at the last minute if we need it.

7. The Bishop and Connectional Ministries Director, Mike Bealla's blessing on the mission-focused webcast.

8.All of the friendly coworkers here at the conference and their excellent cooking/baking skills : )

9. Morning devotions, prayer, sharing, and singing at the conference.

10. The wonderful people I meet through the program as well as the chance to share their stories with the world.

11. The financial resources for my position, and the technical equipment in the studio.

12. Vehicles to travel to the outer regions of our conference for stories.

13. Feedback from viewers.

14. The ability to serve a loving, living God.

15. That our workplace finds value in gathering together for monthly lunches.

16. Sharon leading us in a capella songs in devotions. She keeps us in tune!

17. Stacy being the other Perry County girl in the office : )

18. Conference church camps, of which I was privileged to attend for four years in my youth.

19. Space for our studio in the Mission Central building.

20. The people who come to clean our office.

21. The people who keep our gardens looking beautiful outside the office.

22. That I can find family in the church no matter to what state or country I travel.

23. Jesus' sacrifice of dying for my sins and providing sweet grace and forgiveness.

24.  God's love without conditions.

25. A supportive Christian family.

26. The ability to connect people and organizations through Susquehanna Xpress. Michael Gingerich's Light in the Darkness cancer devotional webcast led to a connection with a woman who works at a cancer retreat center.

27. My Aunt Judy and Uncle Jim who opened up their home to me two nights a week through my college days at Penn State Harrisburg, so that I didn't have to commute so far to work and school.

28. Supportive Penn State Harrisburg professors who showed Susquehanna Xpress in class, and have encouraged my communications work.

29. Christian music to keep me focused.

30.  Last but not least the viewers of Susquehanna Xpress.

Thank you for watching! My hope and prayer is that God uses this program to give you ideas and resources to start that mission that has been rattling around inside your soul. I'll be praying that you have the courage to act on it. You can be praying that we continue to film interviews that motivate others to live out God's call in their lives.

God bless and happy early Thanksgiving!