As we come to Memorial Day we certainly want to pause and thank the Lord for the freedoms we enjoy in this country and remember the cost that others have paid for us to enjoy those freedoms. Even beyond that we want to remember the great cost that Jesus, as our quintessential serviceman, paid for us to enjoy our ultimate freedom!
In the spirit of remembering, we have a couple of transitions we want to mark together. As an incubator church, it has been a pleasure to host people on their journey of serving God (Addison, Simon, Daniel, Ruthy, along with others unofficially). Most recently, Stewart DeJong and Kuni Hotta have spent time with us as they pursue God's further call in their lives. Here are some reflections they share as their internships officially come to an end:
Stewart de Jong - It has been a great privilege to serve you these past two years or so. The family here we have gained in this time will never be forgotten, and we hope to stay in touch with you for many years to come. It has been good to see many members of this body involved in its health and growth even through the pandemic and all the hurdles that it brought. Truly, I have seen a wide range of gifts used in Christ Church; I think it is a great strength and blessing of this congregation. In my time with you I have been able to see how the church leadership team works. It has been especially important for me to recognize that none of this is an individual effort, which is my natural tendency. I have been reminded and taught that we do not work alone. First and foremost we work by the power of the Holy Spirit, and second, we work with the aid and company of our brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope you are able to welcome more incubator opportunities like the one I have been blessed to engage in. It is so valuable to us who are training for ministry to see and work with congregations like Christ Church that hold a deep love for the Word of God, nourish one another in it, and go out into the community to minister to our fellow image bearers.
Masakuni Hotta - Happy Memorial Day weekend! I first got connected with the Christ Church family fall of 2015 when Pastor Andrew came to Japan to teach at the Church Planting Institute Conference. At the time, I was fresh out of the UM College of Engineering with just a few months on the mission field, still wrestling with a sense of call to ministry. Since then, Andrew, Addison, the session, and many others here have played integral roles in bringing me to this point today. It has been a joy and honor to spend the past 10 months with you as a Pastoral Intern. Some of you may be familiar with the connection between our church’s founding and missions in Japan through the Young Family. I can’t help but to celebrate the mysterious way God has woven our stories together—sharing a calling to gospel proclamation here in Michigan and across the sea to Japan. Over the past 10 months you have taught me the beauty of Christ-centered grace-empowered worship and the sweetness of fellowship across the table despite all that seeks to divide us. Most importantly, you have taught me that the Christian life is not about weathering trials by projecting our own strength and righteousness, but is about how the gospel allows us to walk with a limp in step with Jesus, the lover of our souls. As long as the Lord wills, I look forward to many more seasons of partnering in local and global mission as we wait for Jesus’ redemption of all things.
And on the starting side, below are introduced two folks who are taking up life and work among us, at least for a while. Kristina Rice will be with us for the summer, working alongside of Debbie in children's ministry. Paul Cha was an unexpected gift, as a PCA teaching elder moving to GR, wanting to intentionally evangelize under the umbrella of a local PCA church. After some initial conversations with representatives from the staff, session and congregation, we are excited to see where the Lord may lead us in a partnership with Paul. There is no specific program or ministry that Paul will be initiating, but together we have committed to being open to where the Lord may lead. Paul will begin June 7th. Let us do our best to make Kristina and Paul's service among us a delight!
I am going into my senior year at Calvin University where I am majoring in Marketing with a minor in Religion. I am originally from Metro Detroit Michigan where my parents, two brothers and our two puppies call home. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with friends, hiking, running, and reading. This summer I will be working as the Children’s Ministry Intern and am super excited to serve the children and families of Christ Church!
Hannah (wife), Caroline, Priscilla, Susanna, Esther, and Paul (from left) - Eight years ago, I planted a church for the Korean-American families living in Melbourne, Florida through the support from MNA and the Florida Church Planting Network. But since the church was particularized two years ago, I’ve been looking to expand beyond the Korean American community and reach more multi-ethnic groups. God finally answered my prayer. He called me to explore a partnership with Christ Church PCA to begin a multicultural effort of evangelism and discipleship within the framework of their existing ministries. I am very excited to see another great adventure that will arise again in my life as I work with many faithful servants of God here at Christ Church. God is truly adventurous and unpredictable many times, yet perfectly guides His servants to the appointed destination. We are looking forward to getting to know the Christ Church family and hope to grow as a more faithful evangelist and minister with your congregation.