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Summer ministries are in full swing with vacation Bible schools and camp ministry.
Click here for a larger / printable pdf version of this newsletter.
Thank you for your prayers as we serve the Lord sharing the Good News! Be sure to read this latest newsletter to see some of the great things God has been doing.
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The following is an article I was asked to write for Pennsylvania’s Talents for Christ program.
The Impact of Talents for Christ
by Rev. Erich Brooks
I want to share with you a story of how Talents for Christ has impacted a life. Actually, it is my life, and I am so grateful for the involvement I had in Talents for Christ which helped to hone my talents and use them for the cause of Christ.
I am the second of four siblings, and in our family it was expected that we all participate somehow in Talents for Christ (over the years, all of us competed in various categories and each won states and continued on to compete nationally). My older sister competed in the Bible Knowledge category, but I didn’t think I was smart enough to remember whole books of the Bible. I didn’t play an instrument, either, so that kind of narrowed it down to one potential category – Male Public Speaking. At first this sounded a little – actually a lot – nerve-racking to be speaking up in front of people, but I needed to compete in something. Through my dad’s coaching and much practice, even presenting my speech in a couple churches ahead of the competition, I made it through. The two years I competed in Pennsylvania, I won the competition and had opportunity to go on to the national Talents for Christ competition. I know the one year I placed third nationally, but I never found out the other year. I was disappointed to not win at Nationals, but in hindsight, winning wasn’t the most important aspect of the competition. God used the experiences, even more than the pleasure of winning, to prepare me for future ministry and to help this shy, quiet teen develop the confidence to be able to speak in front of others.
After high school, I went to Bible college in the youth pastoral program. My freshman year, my favorite class was speech class. While away at college, I attended a small Baptist church where I preached my first full Sunday morning sermon. I’ll never forget stepping up to the pulpit that morning, looking out across the congregation, and finding that that day, of all days, several very well-known Bible scholars and college professors chose to visit our church! Needless to say, it shook me a little more to be preaching in front of those individuals. I do remember that I kind of flew through my notes that morning and finished fifteen minutes early. I continued to preach occasionally there, and I was approached just before my senior year of college about becoming their pastor. This was a real shock since I wasn’t even out of college. In working through that decision, spending much time in prayer, and meeting with the pulpit committee, I didn’t feel the Lord was directing me at that time into the pastoral ministry, but this was one more way the Lord was opening up my heart to the pastoral ministry.
The Lord continued to guide my steps and open opportunities to speak in front of others in church and at camp. Eventually I was called to pastor Cowlesville Baptist Church in Western New York where I served for twelve years. During those years I had opportunities to speak at conferences, camps, and Christian schools, as well as to lead a pastors and wives fellowship in the Buffalo area. In 2015, I transitioned to being on the road as an evangelist. Since then, I have had the opportunity to speak in many different churches. Do I still get nervous? Yes, sometimes I do. Most of our ministry is focused on smaller churches, but last year I spoke at a church of around 350-400 people. I was fine until I remembered the church service was also broadcast on the radio. Then I started sweating, and my heart began to race! Once I got into sharing the Word of God, though, all was fine. I am humbled to think that God uses me, someone who was so shy as a kid, to communicate His truth. I also thank God for the Talents for Christ program, which pushed me to develop the ability God has blessed me with of speaking forth the Word of God.
I would encourage you to put the abilities God has given you to work in your local church and to encourage the young people around you to do the same. It can have a great impact in directing others to our great God!
Check out our winter newsletter as well as some things we are working on.
Larger / Printable pdf version: Winter 2018 Newsletter
Blessed be our God and Father for His abundant blessings, far more than we could ever imagine. He has shown His blessings to this family of seven so many times this past year, many times each day to be exact. Here are just a few of those blessings:
Trailer upgrade – It has been so much more comfortable as we minister in churches, with enough beds for all and room to move around without bumping into each other.
Hospitality – There have been many over the past year who have shown us hospitality in their home or even taken our family to a restaurant for a meal. Either way, it is a huge undertaking for a family of seven with all but one on a celiac diet. Others have given us money to go out to eat, which the kids always enjoy, especially when we are on a trip.
Animals – Everyone has enjoyed interacting with a variety of God’s creatures, from bears and deer on the hill, to chicks in the incubator and stingrays at the pet shop that we could touch!
New laptop – Given by a church’s VBS offering, this allows us to do more, especially with visual aids in youth ministry, and is more dependable than our old one.
Kids who enjoy serving the Lord – It is a huge encouragement to see our children excited about their involvement in church services and outreach efforts!
Salvation of souls – It is such a delight and privilege to see someone come to know the Savior. The smile on their face as the load of sin has been lifted is priceless.
Generous churches and friends – We are grateful for the financial support of God’s people as we serve the Lord. There’s just something comforting about keeping those bills paid.
Imaginations – Planning VBS programs and decorations, camp backdrops, Christmas programs, and more keeps the creative juices flowing year round, and we are so thankful that God has placed us in a ministry with these opportunities because we love creative work.
Vegetables from our garden – It is always amazing to see how much produce can come off of about 4,500 square feet of garden. We are thankful God gave the strength to be able to bip in and out of the garden, keeping it weeded, etc., through our busy summer with VBS and camp ministry, as well as to put up all that produce.
Internet – Say what you like about today’s technology, there’s nothing like online shopping when you live at least 50 miles from any decent shopping options!
New friends – We have each enjoyed getting to know new people in our travels. Braelyn identifies each church we go to not by name, but by a special friend she will see there.
God’s abundant love – We are humbled as we experience the vastness of God’s love, unearned and unending, freely offered day by day.
“For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting: and His truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100:5
Our fall newsletter is finally out. Be sure to read it to find out about some exciting things we have been working on. There is a link below for a larger/printable version.
Larger/printable version: Fall 2017
Here is our summer newsletter giving you an update on our very busy summer full of VBS and camp ministry.
Larger / Printable pdf version: Summer 2017 Newsletter
We have been praying for months about the possibility of getting a bigger rig to use as we minister in churches. The one we had was very cramped for our family of seven. Even though it was classified to sleep nine, it only had a double bed and three bunks (the top bunk where Blake slept was so close to the ceiling he couldn’t turn over without hitting his shoulders on the ceiling). It was also hard to move around in, especially when Shawna was trying to cook in the kitchen area. This spring we decided to put it up for sale and see if the Lord would provide a buyer. Meanwhile, we researched what travel trailer would be a better fit for our family. We had many inquiries about the travel trailer we were trying to sell, and the Lord sold it nine days after it was put on the market for a better price than we really thought we would be able to get out of it. We knew the Lord was in it, and had settled on a model we felt would be a good fit, but the price was five thousand dollars more than the sale of our travel trailer. We continued to pray for God’s direction and His provision.
God provided every penny needed, including having the sellers of the model we were looking at drop their price $2,000. It is awesome to see God work. This past week we made the four and a half hour trip to southeast PA to make the purchase. The new to us travel trailer is just what we were looking for. It is a lite, so it can be pulled with our Chevy Suburban, is five feet longer, has a nice slide-out, four bunks, and a few other perks like an oven for Shawna. God is so good!
On our way back from picking up the travel trailer, we stopped by Hershey’s Chocolate World and took the kids on their tour (a free tour and we all got a free Hershey’s chocolate bar to boot 🙂 ).
Check out our spring newsletter for an update on our ministry happenings.
Larger / Printable pdf version: spring 2017 newsletter