Michael B Linton

Monday, March 30, 2009

Extended Narrative of Recent Events.

Do the things of God ever work as fast as we would like? Probably not, and the last few months have been a testament to that fact. Etta and I are in God’s “Fruit of the Spirit Educational System” and are apparently pursuing our master’s in patience. Let me tell you, the curriculum is tough.

But there still has been a lot of activity. Our first bit of news is the change of our name. Our mission statement is “To make disciples by sharing the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the healing of hearts from our community to the world.” Our vision statement is “To be a place of hope for the hopeless and healing for the hurting through hearts changed by Jesus Christ.” So, in order to better express our mission and vision, we changed our name to Hope Fellowship. There are only a few more steps to make the change official. We also changed our website to http://www.hopehealinghearts.net/.

We’ve had two outreach events in the apartment complex. In February we had a pancake brunch, but only had 6 people attend. In March, we had a taco lunch and had 30 attend. We were incredibly excited about that increase. On April 5th, we are having an Easter egg hunt/cook out for the complex. We hope to have music, food, giveaways, the egg hunt, and we will invite people to a get-to-know-us time at our apartment. This will be our biggest and most expensive event yet, so we could really use your prayers and financial support.

We found out that one of our outreaches is meeting needs we could have never known about. When we go through a drive-thru restaurant, we pay for the order for the car behind us and give them our church card with plan of salvation on it. Following is an email from a friend of ours showing what God does when we are obedient:

You are not going to believe this!! I had lunch Friday with the school district’s internal auditor and a couple of other bookkeepers. We were just talking and one of them asked what church I attend and so I told her [not our church start] and then she went on to tell us a story about right after the hurricane [Ike], how broke she was and had to borrow money from someone to put gas in her car and with the left over money she was buying her kids a meal from McDonald's in Summerwood, and she said she was just having a really bad day, and when she pulled up to pay, the lady said “The car in front of you paid your bill,” and she could not believe it!!! And she went on to say that it was this really nice couple with 2 little boys and they are opening a church in Summerwood. I got chills all over my body!!! I said I know them and I have to tell them this because they are trying so hard to open this church and keep having obstacles in their way. She said she would like to try your church out and I told her she should. She said when she decides to try it will I come with her because she is not good at things like this. I said sure let me know when you want to and I would love to go with you. She is unchurched and apparently her husband is an alcoholic. Very sweet lady. Her name is ----------.

Needless to say, we were more than a little moved by God using us to minister. We have grown since our last update. We have a young lady from the complex who is extremely involved and very excited. We also had a couple and their 8 year-old daughter visit last week. You may remember that we began to eat at a restaurant in Summerwood in September of 2007. While there, we left business cards on the counter. Summer of 2008, this couple picked up one of our cards and has been following our blog and progress. They joined us last week. The most awesome thing about it is that they live in the neighborhood of Summerwood, not in the apartment complex. They immediately began to help us gain access to the community center and other facilities for outreach and in order to move our Bible study. This will finally get us into the center of the community we have been called to reach! We are ecstatic about the opportunities God is unfolding in front of us.

Please continue to pray for us. We have come a long way, we are gaining momentum, but there is still a long way to go. Our families and even our large churches are feeling the current financial crunch, so you can imagine what it is doing to a small church start like us with an extremely tight budget. But God has not failed us—He has provided exactly what we needed every time we needed it. And I have hope (confident expectation) that He will do it. Our God never fails.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Praise, praise, praise!

Boy, have we got a praise!

Let me remind you of our past:

Over two years ago, we began our outreach by eating at Manuel’s in Summerwood on Tuesday nights. We developed great relationships with the staff, two of which have continued to this day, but nothing that lead to anyone visiting our church start. By God’s leading—and not being sure what would come of it—we put out our business cards with a whole nest of others on the counter at the cash register.

Last summer, a family picked one up.

Tonight, they came to Bible study.

We don’t know whether they will continue on with us or not. That’s between them and God, but we hope they do. (Hey Brett and Amy.) But here’s the most amazing part. They are going to be our “sponsors” in Summerwood. That’s right—they live in Summerwood, not in the apartments. And they are looking into the rental of the community center. Since they live there, they can do it for us and we can use it. That way, if we are unable to move to Summerwood this summer, we still have access to all the facilities. They have agreed to do this, regardless of whether or not they join our church! That is awesome!

So now, we finally have our toehold in the Summerwood community and can begin outreach events there—like water at parades, cokes at the pools, surveys, etc, etc. So please pray for us:

Pray that we know the next step to take.
Pray that our finances improve enough to get us, specifically, through the next 3 months.
Pray for our cookout on Palm Sunday, as this may be the last BIG event we do for a few months in the complex (money, you know).
Pray for 3 families that WE are praying will join us at Hope.
Pray that, if it is truly God’s will, that the resources are there for us to move to Summerwood right on time.

Thank you so much for all you do.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pray for the cook-out

First, I neglected to let y’all know of a loss in our lives. Etta’s Grandpa AD died last Thursday in Wichita, KS. We went up on Saturday (8 ½ hour drive squeezed into 12 hours), wake on Sunday, Funeral on Monday, returned on Tuesday (8 ½ hour drive squeezed into 12 hours). He had pancreatic cancer and had been suffering quite a bit the last couple of weeks so, as a child of God, He is MUCH better off. Pray specifically for Etta’s grandmother Lois. As we all would if in the same situation, she is taking it very badly.

Here are the promised details on our cook-out.

Palm Sunday, April 5th from 1-3, we will have an Easter egg hunt for the kids of the apartment complex. We have secured the donation of the money for about 1000 plastic eggs to fill with candy. We will also cook hamburgers and hotdogs on the grills at the complex. We are borrowing a sound system so we can play Christian music and make announcements and shamelessly promote ourselves. We want to have a 6x3 banner with our church name and website on it. We will have surveys to fill out and will have giveaways/drawings for those filling them out.

During the giveaways, we are going to invite everyone there to a short devotional/get-to-know-what-we’re-doing time at 3:30. It will be an opportunity to get them in the door and see what we’re about.

This is an extremely ambitious project for us, both in terms of work and finances. The total cost is going to be about $700. It is a lot of money, but the complex is getting behind it and advertising for us, so we want to make sure we do the best possible job. We are asking individuals and churches to help us fund it. I have listed below individual costs for different parts of the event. If you or your church could fund an entire part of the event, that would be incredible. If you can only give a donation toward the whole event, that would be extremely helpful.

We really feel like we are gaining traction in the community. We feel like, when the time comes to begin reaching out to larger Summerwood neighborhood, we will have a lot of momentum to carry us forward. But keeping that momentum depends on things like this cook-out. It seems simple but it is an awesome way for us to reach out with servant evangelism. Pray that we have the opportunity to present the gospel. Pray that we have a couple of hundred people come. Pray that we have the resources provided for us to be able to do this as well as possible.

Here is a list of the individual parts that you or your church could fund:
Candy and eggs: $200 (covered)
Banner: $150
Giveaways: $100
Food: $350

Whatever you can do would be a tremendous help. And your prayers are most important of all.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Big Announcement and Big Prayer

Okay, time for a big announcement: we are changing our name. We let you know we were praying about this a few weeks back and now we’ve come to a decision. Summerlake will now be Hope Fellowship. This name encapsulates our vision for the Summerwood community and beyond—bringing the only true hope for a lost, confused, and scared community. This name change is immediate. You will begin to see it on our website and in other places. However, if you are a financial supporter, please continue to make out checks to Summerlake until further notice.

I have not yet told you about our breakfast in February. We had a low turn-out, but that presented the opportunity for us begin deeper relationships. Pray for Rachel, a prospect for joining us and for Lynn and her daughter, a Seventh - day Adventist that we a long conversation with. Also pray for 3 other families that the Lord has lain on our hearts. These are people we feel like God may be leading to join us.

We are also hosting another outreach at the apartment complex. Sunday at 1PM, we are having a taco lunch. We also got permission to put flyers on the doors so we no longer have to mail announcements. Now we can be sure the people are looking at the card. Pray that we have a big turn-out for the lunch and that we can build relationships and witness for Christ.