Friday, April 27, 2007

Loving the Legacy
Impact's 2oth Anniversary Celebration Dinner - "Legacy of Love"
The 2007 Impact Celebration Dinner, "Legacy of Love," was a big success as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Impact church. All glory and honor is due to our profoundly wonderful and forever faithful God. God was honored as we celebrated the contributions of so many of His faithful servants. The University of Houston Hilton ballroom could barely accommodate the overflow crowd of 550, as we listened to inspiring testimonials from across the spectrum of those that have been touched by the Impact church. Featured speaker, Brian Mashburn did a super job of reminding us what a joy it is to serve God by serving people. The Melo-d-heirs singing group did their usual outstanding job praising God and encouraging all in attendance. We look forward with anticipation to see what God has in store for the next 20 years. It will surely be as fascinating and exciting as the last 20. Special thanks are due to Sonya Guice and Jim Brooks as their tireless efforts made the dinner possible. -Paul Woodward

There are so many outstanding families and individuals at Impact, it almost seems unfair to single anyone out. However, in order to give an idea of how God works in people’s lives here, Clara Escobar’s story is timely and covers a lot of territory. Like so many of a growing percentage of Hispanic families that are in the Houston area, Clara’s family is relatively new to the U.S. Clara and her husband, Melvin, have been here long enough to learn enough English to communicate fairly well, but language is still a struggle. Life is a struggle when the roots are not deep in the culture. Work is hard to find and sustain, other things that can be handled fairly easily for a typical resident are more complicated when documents are not in order or missing. Somehow, Clara made a connection with Alejandro Arango, Impact’s Hispanic minister of 15 years, and began to study the Bible. This shy apprehensive young lady started to open her eyes to the blessings of God through Christ. Her face that often seemed stern and protective, started to soften, as did her heart. She invited her Aunts Virginia and Maria to the study times. She began bringing her family and extended family to church. The fact that the ministers accompanied her to visits with her brother in a Texas prison helped her see that there were people there to help. The distribution center met needs of her family from time to time. It was God’s message to her that made the biggest difference. She was baptized in the Fall of 2005. Since then, she has brought many family members to church and activities. They have helped with the Garage Sales, worked at the distribution center, and volunteered for various things in the church.

God has made a change in Clara, but the blessings of God have been transferred to those around her. Two of her aunts, one brother, and her mother have been baptized. Neighbors have been introduced to a church family that loves them. Melvin, her husband, even bought a van (at a special price) specifically to be able to bring neighbors and friends to church. Clara’s sister, Maria Mendez was brought to the church for prayers, and ever since, that family has benefited from a chain of prayer support that has sustained them through a journey of surgeries, complications, and the eventual healing of Maria’s body. But it wasn’t just her sister who needed the prayers. The entire family was affected by Maria’s hospital stay and medical situation. The church helped in some ways, but it was the prayer support that Clara’s family was most impressed by. Clara really learned how to communicate prayer needs and encourage people to pray. She learned more about the power of prayer in the process.

It is difficult to choose just one family at Impact to write about, but Clara Escobar and her family seems to be able to reflect in broad way the way God is acting through Impact. Feeding and clothing those in need, consistent Bible study and spiritual support, marital counseling, opportunities to serve, bringing people to Christ, visiting the sick and those in prison, and growing in the direction of service to God, and ultimately shining for Him are things the Bible teaches us to do. These are things that happen regularly at Impact with many families. These are things that are reflected in Clara’s story, and no one can ignore the joy of Christ that now is reflected in Clara’s face. Praise God for what He is doing to change lives at Impact.

Member Profile: Laura Hamilton

I am not a fan of my needs and weaknesses. I would prefer, instead, to plow my way through life independent, brave and with a big “S” on my chest. But I can’t. My Heavenly Father has humbled me and life has knocked me around enough that I cannot hide from the reality of the depth of my needs. I need to be loved unconditionally. I need a “gang”- somewhere I can fit and belong and find protection. I need a reason to live, a reason to keep going when it would be so much easier to throw in the towel. I need a shoulder to cry on when my heart hurts in ways I can’t explain. I need someone to celebrate my victories with me and tell me that I’m doing a good job. I need purpose in my life- a cause to work for that is far greater and more important than just me.
These are the needs that have brought me to Impact. And I can say with much joy in my heart that these needs are met by God on a continual basis at Impact. I am loved unconditionally by my family at Impact. I have my gang, my place of belonging and protection. I have my reason to live- I am loved more than I can imagine by my Creator even though I have done nothing to deserve it. I have a shoulder to cry on- not only do I have a phone book full of “3 A.M. friends”, I have a shoulder to cry on that carried a Roman cross 2,000 years ago. And my cause couldn’t be more precious. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 Maybe needs and weaknesses aren’t so bad if they usher you into the presence of the One who loves you most. -Laura Hamilton
Holding one of Impact’s newest family members, Laura Hamilton beams for the camera. Laura was also a key player in providing for Impact ministers a much-needed spiritual retreat.
Thanks Laura for all you do!

Time Out!
The Young Professionals Group at Impact gifted the Impact ministers with a time to step back, relax, and reflect on what God is doing with them. Ross Cochran from Harding drew from his expertise on the Life of Christ to help the ministers see how God provides when we don’t think we have “enough." God used Ross and his prtrayal of the account of Jesus and the loaves and fishes to encourage those who give on a constant basis to realize the blessing of ministry, and the confidence to know that God provides in the areas where we lack. When we think there is nothing left to give, Jesus steps in and blesses what you have, and then He shows off. The retreat, full of activities ranging from songs to s’mores, to games, to prayer activities, to rock-climbing, was fun, refreshing, and fulfilling. Special, thoughtful servants saw the need to give to others servants. Giving abounds at Impact.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Since November, the Mendez family, Impact members, and other Impact friends and supporters have been praying for Maria Mendez. She was blessed to have a quadruple transplant surgery in November, and this past Friday was finally released to come home. The recovery has been difficult, but we thank God for the healing He has given her. She faces a long road of therapy and adjustment with her new organs, but throughout her time in the hospital her family learned to depend on God. Her mother wants to thank all who have been praying for them. Those prayers sustained them.
Keep Maria and her family in your prayers, and praise God for what He has already done.
For more info, see the following link:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter Sunday church participation.

Hispanic Men's Retreat 2007

This past Easter weekend, enough men were free enough to spend the weekend together getting to know one another better, and hearing what God has to say about being a man from His word. Charlie and Mollie Middlebrook were kind enough to provide a place near Galveston for us to lodge. The plan was to do some fishing and play around at the beach (soccer, etc.), but the weather was a big surprise. 40 degree temps and rain just didn't match up to the things we had on our agenda. There were even table games and cards to take advantage of as well. However, all we seemed to do outside of the planned lessons and worship was cook, eat, and talk. We talked late into the early morning. Its not what we had in mind, but it turned out to be one of the best things we could have done. There were some guys there that really needed to make the connections that were made. Now, I don't want to take away from some of the powerful times we had in the presentations and discussions. There were some things that really hit home and encouraged us, but the hanging-out that occurred may have been were God moved the most. Thanks for your prayers for this retreat.