Monthly Archives: May 2012

Making a Lasting Impact—It’s Simple.

I’ve been at Bethany for 3 ½ years and I love it here.  I love the incredible pastoral staff I get to work with.  I love the students that I minister to.  I love the volunteers I work with week in and week out in Jr. High and in High school.  I love the people in this church who make up our community of believers.

So the question is why.  Why do I love them?  What makes me care?

The answer is just as simple as the question.  Because of the relationships I have.

I have some great memories with different people here at Bethany.  Most of them are with students and volunteer staff with the youth, but there is one instance at Bethany that I’ve cherished and that I’d like to highlight.

My first week at Bethany was 3 weeks before I was hired.  I went to the first service because I was going to another church at 11am because for the first time in my entire life, I didn’t have a church family.  That morning I was really nervous.  I was also trying to be inconspicuous.  I didn’t want anyone to treat me differently because I was a candidate for the youth pastor position.  I wanted to see what the church was like as someone who just walked in.  And I’ll never forget what happened.  I was sitting near the back of the church and the lady in front of me talked to me.  And she didn’t stop talking to me.  She asked me questions about who I was, where I was from, and even told me that there was another service at a later time that probably had music that I would like a little more.  She then invited me to sit by her.

Before I came to Bethany, I went to 4-5 churches that I had heard great things about and only at two of them did someone actually talk to me. But Bev talked to me.  She instantly cared.  Now she’s on my prayer team and prays for me consistently.

Bev McDannald didn’t really do anything that was out of the ordinary.  Or maybe she did.  And maybe the fact that talking to someone who is new at our church is something that should be changed.  Make it a point to talk to people who are new, even if it makes you feel a little uncomfortable.

VBS is quickly approaching and greeters are needed.  All that’s being asked is that we talk to people and care about them. Then we talk to them again the next night when they drop off their kids.  Then on Sunday, June 17th when they come for the kids singing during service, they’ll know someone and you can talk to them again.  For me, it made all the difference.  I’m confident that it will also make a lasting impact on someone who doesn’t have a church and doesn’t know Jesus at all.  But people are needed.  Be the Bev McDannald who ends up in a blog years down the road because you cared enough to talk to someone.

Thanks Bev.  I appreciate you.

Jason Kinzel

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ONE

I recently read an article in Christianity Today that caught my attention. The article was a research report which concluded that those who read their Bible daily tend toward “liberal” thinking on issues of justice and fairness to those less fortunate. In other words, frequent Bible readers begin to understand and embody concern for the “least of these” (Matt 25:31-46). [1]

I can relate to these findings. The more I read scripture, the more I become aware of passages like Amos 5:24, Zechariah 7:8-10, or Matthew 25:31-46 which talk about caring for the poor and needy as an outpouring of being close to God’s heart. For our family this is expressed through child sponsorship with Compassion International, and of course at Bethany Church, our corporate sponsorship through World Vision of Hlengiwe and Thabani.

In 1999, I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks in Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of Congo. While there I saw first-hand the tremendous poverty and suffering which people live with daily. I was humbled to be served meals at hosts homes that must have cost them a week’s worth of wages, knowing that back at my accommodation I had energy bars and snacks that they could only dream about. I know that corrupt governments and greedy workers often are to blame for the suffering of others, but I also saw people who were doing all they could just to survive on a daily basis. I came back a changed person.

If increased Bible reading is changing the way you think about global issues of poverty, there are many ways to get involved and to make a difference. About 6 years ago I heard about an organization that was working to help alleviate poverty in Africa through advocacy and information. The organization was founded by Bono, the lead singer from the Irish band U2, and is called ONE. Their tagline states, “Make Poverty History.” I joined this movement and found an easy way through the click of a mouse to add my voice to the 2.5 million others who were also concerned about issues of poverty in Africa (www.one.org).

In addition there are two Mennonite organizations concerned about the poor. For those in business, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) provides microloans around the world (www.meda.org). MCC, the global relief and development agency for Mennonite congregations, is also a good resource for giving and for personal action (www.mcc.org).

Why am I writing this for the blog this week? To encourage us as a Church to find ways to bless and encourage those who are less fortunate. I would love to see us as a church be more involved in advocating for all who don’t have a voice. The ONE Campaign provides that for people in Africa; Cities Without Orphans does that here in Fresno with children in the Foster Care system; MCC works around the world through its Global Families program; MEDA mobilizes the business community to look beyond the bottom line.

As you read your Bible, let God show you where you can lend your voice or a helping hand to “the least of these.”

Rick Bartlett


[1]    A Left-Leaning Text, Christianity Today October 2011. pg 32-33

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Stimulating Discipleship

Our blog this week is a guest post from Andy Wilson, a friend of mine from the UK. Andy is the director of Roll The Rock, a youth ministry in Harrogate in the Northern part of England. Andy is involved in sharing the gospel with students every week.

I first met Andy when he came to YFC to participate in a program I directed called the “Apprenticeship Scheme.” The program was designed to help people make the career shift from whatever they had been doing into youth ministry. 

Andy and I share prayer requests weekly and after one interchange Andy shared this blog with me. As I read it, I thought his insights were great and it matched where we were in our study of Hebrews perfectly. 

One other thing you need to know about Andy as you read this blog–he’s blind. 

Happy reading…. Pastor Rick 

Running a half marathon entails many different disciplines, but one of the hardest is the discipline of the mind.

Gradually building up length of time running doesn’t just mean strengthening of the legs, or even the body, but it involves convincing the mind to keep going for a lengthy period of time.  Sometimes it isn’t the body that struggles, but the mind that lets us down.

It is vitally important to realize that we need to have our minds stimulated, engaged, and focused upon the long-term goals for our discipleship and the discipleship of others.  Many diversions, struggles, and mind-games will all come our way. It could be easy to give in at any point rather than pushing through, persevering, and persisting in all that God has for us.

A recent goal of mine was to run at a consistent speed for 80 minutes! A fair length of time in anyone’s mind! At 65 minutes my mind started asking questions, bringing doubts, and convincing me that maybe 80 minutes was too far this time and that a shorter length of time would be fine. By just over 70 minutes I had given in, the doubts had become continuous, the questions too much, and my mind had been convinced not to run for 80 minutes.  Once my mind gave in, my running action became sluggish, tired, uneasy, and uncomfortable, all of which brought a negative impact upon my legs and so I gave in!

The reality is that we are always going to face challenges, questions, and doubts. The bigger question is how do we deal with these? How do we cope? Do we have the right support around us to enable us to push through and get to the place where God wants us to be?

So how do we stay focused, keep our minds stimulated, and reach the destiny that God has for us? Some suggestions and thoughts:

1. Do we surround ourselves with stories of what God is doing? Do we surround ourselves with people who are talking about what God is doing, about what God is saying, and who enable us to be a part of that?

2. Do we surround ourselves with people who believe in us? To stay focused we need to have people who will hold us accountable, keep us on track, ask the difficult questions, and share in the exciting times.

3. Do we surround ourselves with inspirers? Are there people cheering us on from the side-lines, being intentional about spending time with us, and wanting us to reach our goals?

4. Do we surround ourselves with up-lifters? These are people who we can be honest with, who can tell when we are struggling, and who can tell when we’ve failed. These people will pick us back up, put us back on the right track, and not let us give in!

5. Do we surround ourselves with understanders? These are people who have an understanding of where we are going and what we are aiming for. They can give us good advice, point us in the right direction, and help us build things into our lives that will help us in the long-run.

This list of people is not exhaustive, but it is a start for us to think through so we do not struggle alone. I encourage you not to try and work stuff out on our own, for alone we may never get to that 80 minutes, or even beyond. Alone we may never reach that point that God wants us too, but with the right people, in the right parts of life, with the right focus, and stimulants, our minds will keep us on track; we will not get sluggish and we will reach that godly destination.

Andy Wilson

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