1st Annual LHNC Men’s Retreat (pictured above): On the last weekend in April we had our first ever (but definitely will be repeated) men’s retreat at New Life Marina. 15 of us went and stayed together in a large retreat house that sits on the water. It was such a great time for all of us. We had great times of worship together, fishing and boat rides, and some phenomenal meals. We are praying that the momentum of the retreat will mobilize our men to engage in discipleship groups and serve in ministry.
TUMI Graduation in Solano State Prison: Over the last year or so I have been volunteering once (and sometimes twice) a month helping facilitate TUMI courses in a state prison, 1 hour north of us. TUMI stands for “The Urban Ministry Institute,” and is a seminary level, 16 course ministry training curriculum. On the last Friday in April I had the privilege of watching about 20 guys graduate from TUMI. It was such a powerful display of the transforming grace of the gospel. Singing “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” with a group of men who have been “set free” was so powerful. Some of the men will get out of prison soon, and have aspirations to plug into churches and communities to serve the Lord. Others of them are serving life sentences, and will continue to serve the Lord in ministry on the inside.
The Potential Project: Each of the past 3 schools years I have worked with some teachers in our congregation on a student initiative called The Potential Project. This year we received 66 student applications from throughout our school district. We funded 29 projects from nine different schools (elementary, middle, and high schools). These projects addressed issues such as the student drop out rate, literacy, English language learning, math scores, achievement rates, the correlation between athletics and academics, student health, college preparation, and cultural agility in the face of systemic injustices. A local online newspaper, The Richmond Standard, did a great article and short highlight video of the celebration on their web site. You can read the article and watch the video here. The above picture is from our end of the year celebration that we hosted at the church on May 12th. The picture below is Tyler, Courtney, and I – the educators whom I work with on the project.
Resurrection Sunday (part 1): – Most Wednesday mornings I gather with a group of pastors to pray with and for one another. It is a multi-denominational, multi-ethnic group of men. The group is an answer to prayer for me, since coming back from Rwanda last summer and seeing the pastoral unity there. Every year at Easter these Richmond pastors collaborate to put on an Easter Sunrise service. This year they asked me to preach since I’m the new guy. It was a memorable experience to preach early in the morning to a packed mausoleum on a hill top cemetery (pictured below). It reminded me that God’s Church is alive, even in the Bay Area!
Resurrection Sunday (part 2): We had the opportunity at LHNC to celebrate the resurrection through baptisms. Rick, who is new to our church, and Rosa, who recently returned to our church, took this step of obedience and publicly proclaimed their faith in Christ! Below is a picture of Rosa coming out of the water with great joy.
AWANA: We just finished our fifth year of AWANA at LHNC. This year our theme was “Get Low” from Philippians 2:3-4. The clubbers did a great job memorizing the theme verse and their gospel bracelets, and the theme of “Get Low” was a great practical theme that we could weave throughout the night. Here are some pictures below of our ending ceremony.
Faith & Finances – In collaboration with our good partners Christian Layman Church (who we also partner with to do Eye Screenings), we are doing a 12 week financial literacy/stewardship class. Baniah (from our church) and Gordon (from CLC) are leading the effort and facilitating the class. We have 8 students from LHNC going through the class right now (including Josie). Each week the class gathers for dinner together at 6:30 before beginning any content for the night. This helps provide a family atmosphere, as we learn together about God’s perspective on our finances. We are also grateful to the Chalmers Institute who helped us secure a grant to make this possible. Lord willing, this will be an annual class at LHNC.