Hearing the Music

Comings and Goings

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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!

Kristina Rice

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!

Paul Cha

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.

 

Photo by Thomas Despeyroux on Unsplash

Catching Young Women and Men with the Gospel

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"College is where people figure out who they want to be. I want to be there with the gospel." - CO campus staffer

This week a group of our pastors and elders traveled to Grace PCA in Peoria, IL to meet with pastors, elders, Campus Outreach staffers, and graduates to take some final steps to learn more about the ministry culture and operation of Campus Outreach that will in a matter of weeks officially transfer "ownership" to Christ Church. 

By way of reminder, Kenny Hayes, as the regional director of the newly planted Campus Outreach West MI, has moved to Kalamazoo and begun work at Western MI University. While they are beginning in Kalamazoo, CO West MI will be a direct ministry of Christ Church. It will be overseen by the session. CO staff will be employees of CC. The ministry will be shaped by our values and culture. Graduates will be encouraged to settle in West MI and continue the mission of the Kingdom through our churches.

Despite the challenges of COVID, Kenny, along with the team he is assembling, has made progress towards their mission of "building laborers on the campus for the lost world." This is a ministry that changes lives of college students caught in the deceit of the world. This is a ministry that disciples young women and men to not only grow in their faith but to share it with others. This is a ministry that helps people transition from the cocoon of college to life out in the Church and in the world.

It was so encouraging to hear in Peoria the testimonies of God's grace to change lives. It was so encouraging to hear several of the Grace PCA elders attest to their belief that adopting Campus Outreach Central Illinois was the best decision that they made for their church. This week, as we look through the lens of Psalm 119:9 where the psalmist asks, "How can a young man keep his way pure?", it is so encouraging to know that the men and women of CO are pursuing answers to this question with a generation of college students, and we are being invited into this journey.

I know it feels a little distant yet as the ministry is starting in Kalamazoo (be patient, it will be in GR soon enough), but by God's grace this is our ministry. Let's pray for God's grace to penetrate the lives of students and for grace to be multiplied! 

Mountains

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For those of you that didn't know, most of the VanderMaas clan spent a good part of the last two weeks in the Rocky Mountains near Winter Park, CO. There is something about the majesty of the mountains that simultaneously humbles and fills creatures like us. Mountains are so big! So old! So formidable in so many ways! It is truly humbling to stand ringed by these peaks and know how small we are. Yet these same mountains which humble us, are owned by our God and King. As the Psalmist says, "In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also!"  Seeing the majesty of the mountains reminds us of the even greater majesty of our God. 

If I could be vulnerable for a moment, I confess that I needed those mountains. In a world that has been so topsy turvy, so changeable, especially this last year; it was good to be reminded that I serve a God who is bigger, eternal, and more formidable than those magnificent Rockies! With everything in flux, I needed to be reminded of the One who cannot change and cannot be moved. The promises which are yes and amen in Christ are mine. His steadfast love toward his people remains. Again with the Psalmist, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:1–3).

As we have been studying, this unmovable God reveals himself through his enduring, truthful, sweeter-than-honey word. This week we will look at how in the Word we find comfort in affliction, something that we all can relate to needing. 

 

Photo by Morgan VanderMaas

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