Friday, July 11, 2008

One facet of Impact life is our worship services. We have two simultaneous services: one in English and one in Spanish. Both begin at 11:30 am followed by a meal together at 1:00pm. The Spanish speaking meeting area is transformed every Sunday from a meeting area to a dining hall. As soon as corporal worship activities end, Spanish-speaking members empty into the hallway as some of our English-speaking members join a few of our Hispanic members in putting away and setting up chairs and tables for the meal. Even while Impact members are listening to a sermon, members of a visiting congregation will be preparing to serve the meal in the large, industrial size kitchen. This is a great time for all of our members to mingle and spend time together.

Every six weeks or so, we also combine the two services for a large bilingual service where we utilize bilingual members in leading biingual prayers, songs, or readings of the Word of God. Sermons are either translated or presented bilingually.

Visual communication plays an increasingly important role in our time together as we become more and more capable with PowerPoint and Media Shout enhancements in the presentation of songs lyrics, scripture, sermon points, and transitions. Already certain ministers regularly use props, art, and testimonies to enhance their presentations. Posters accompany the current series of lessons.

These are things that we do for edifying the body. They are small details that accompany the main focus: presenting Christ as our Lord! He is the one that can make an Impact in the lives of everyone we serve. We use our tools and our opportunities to reflect His glory, praise His name, and presenting hope found in Christ to a lost and hurting world.

Great uses of Art in worship:" FlashVars="viewkey=f107026ad0b0be011fa7" quality="high" width="330" height="270" name="godtube_video" menu="false" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="" />" FlashVars="viewkey=050e84e2a0f0b9fdeea1" wmode="transparent" quality="high" width="330" height="270" name="godtube" align="middle" allowScriptAccess="sameDomain" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="" />

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sometimes you just need pictures.

Ø This past Sunday (March 30, 2008) we enjoyed another bilingual service where both Steve’s (former bilingual minister, Steve Austin and current bilingual minister, Steven Wells) could be used along with several others to lead us in an uplifting time of service. We finished our “Meals with the Master” series with a hope-filled lesson on the Heavenly Banquet that awaits us. We recognized the new Christians of 2008 and took the Lord’s Supper, then finished a great time of community eating a meal that our High School group cooked and served. Our next bilingual service is scheduled for MAY 18th, and I believe that anyone who may be able to attend would be blessed and inspired.

Ø The GARAGE SALE is just a couple of weeks away! We have already gotten loads and loads of items to sale, but one need still remains: manpower. Tuesday April 15th we get to begin taking our goods over to Trader’s Village, and normally we have a huge group of Spring Breakers along to do so much of the grunt work. Such is not the case this year, but we think we can manage, especially with the help of good friends. (nod, nod. wink,wink)

Ø What not to miss:
o The Annual Impact Garage Sale – April 18-19 (Note: Not during Spring Break, meaning we lose the manpower and work hours of 50-60 young, dedicated young people with big hearts and energetic bodies. Translation: We will be solicited help.)
Celebration Dinner on May 8th. BUY YOUR TABLE NOW!! We need more of you to share in this special time of celebrating what God is doing at IMPACT. I don’t want you to miss this wonderful opportunity.

If it’s a sunny Sunday afternoon, we can pretty much bet that you’ll find several of our Impact members playing “futbal.” Although the above photograph was taken at a Men’s Retreat, it is not atypical to find a good representation of the mix we have at Impact. Sure, the games are dominantly Hispanic, but we are encouraging more and more involvement from the English-speaking portion of the congregation. This is just one of the avenues we have for coming together as a body, as well as evangelizing in the community. Its great to have something that attracts non-Christians and the un-churched to a place where they can experience the genuine joy and fellowship that can exist among a group of believers in Christ.

It may be the soccer that draws some people, but it is acceptance and friendship that brings people back. Its funny how we still have to learn something so basic. Our Impact groups have been a great training field already in how to interact with people while keeping Christ the center of all that is done. We have to admit that sometimes we just don’t have the right balance of elements. It is so easy to make our time as a group primarily a Bible study. Sometimes it can become just a social gathering dominated by small-talk, or maybe even a prolonged planning meeting. What we learn, as leaders meet together every other week (and weekly for the Hispanic leaders) is that our Impact groups are much more than a study time or a planning session or a party, though each are expected elements of these groups. We may see how one group was so touched in their time of worship that they extended their praise and shortened their time in the Word. The result might bring about hearts so prepared for sharing or for service that big ideas are spoken, prayer and planning ensues, and dreams are pursued. The multiplication that we talk about in Impact groups is SO much more than a growth in numbers of attendees, but growth in excitement and enthusiasm for the body, for Christ, for service, for the community that God is developing! As Les Rose described it this morning in our weekly ministers meeting, there is a Great momentum that is welling up within our members. We need to continue being that church that says, “You are welcome here. We will be your family. Look what God is doing over here. You want to work with us? Come on!” It’s not just an invitation to a place, but to a community and a walk as well. We have much to develop regarding spiritual growth and leadership training that is uniform and church-wide, and we are taking those steps, but until then pray for our wisdom as we develop and lead each other actively in the process.
It seems like just a couple of weeks ago I submitted my last report, and so much was going on. I almost feel that, after having all the Spring break groups come and go and the Garage Sale drawing closer, that there seems to be a slight lull. Not so, at all. It just feels that way after such activity. We remain very busy with activities and plans, but most of all we stay busy experiencing the adventure of encountering interesting people, offering whatever we have, and seeing what God will do.
HIGH PRICED FUEL!!?? Just yesterday (3-13-08) oil was at $110.00/barrel. One estimate was that gasoline could move to $3.50-$4.00/gal. At that price it will cost over $300.00 to fill a bus this summer. We have 5 buses. In addition we have another 12 vans. Used daily for our summer program, we will incur fuel costs approaching $1000.00/day. Multiply that by 4 days/week for 4 weeks plus camp trips, trek, mission trips, etc. in June and we are a bit overwhelmed at the prospects. Barring an oil well being drilled on our property, we seek encourage in relief of our dilemma. - Doug Williams
Spring Break brings “Spring Breakers.” Groups from Pepperdine, LCU, OSU, ACU and Sunset came to help with youth projects, work projects, evangelism, and general Impact involvement. Buildings and houses were painted, the lonely were visited and loved, the grieving were comforted, children were made to feel special, communites were reached, and the list goes on. For this to take place, much coordination is needed between ministers and ministries and even outside volunteers. Everyone ran around like bees between hives, but much work was done, and God’s love was spread around.
In Memory of…
Already this year Impact has lost some very special people. We want to remember them by sharing with you who they are.

Wilbert Gentry: The cousin of Impact elder Harvey Davis, Wilbert came to know Christ shortly before passing away. His funeral was a touching celebration of a rescued life.

Shirley Lowe: Longtime Impact supporter and worker, wife of Bob Lowe, Shirley showed her love for Impact with faithful service especially at the Impact Distribution Center.

Louie Welch: Former mayor of Houston, not only did Louie make a great impact on this city, but his support of Impact from its beginning made eternal impressions on the church as a whole and in the lives of many individuals.

R. J. Malachowsky: After years on the streets and being served as one of Impact’s outdoorsmen, RJ developed a special mentoring relationship with Doug Williams, eventually settled into an apartment, and continued attending Impact until the recent sickness that took his life.
Making Memories Together

Impact harbors the homeless, cares for the poor, provides for the needy, and loves the rejected. There are many programs and outreaches through the work at Impact, but we must never forget that Impact, too, is a living body of Christ. This year has been full of exciting opportunities to be together. The High School boys got away on a hiking/camping trip to grow as a group and learn to depend on one another more. The high school and jr. High girls attended Girls Reflecting Glory. Impact groups are having special events outside of the scheduled meeting to fellowship. Several groups got together for the Superbowl. (Two cells combined on the English side for a Superbowl party and to encourage each other. Several members hosted the homeless for a Superbowl party at the church building.) Multilingual retreats for the Men of Impact at the Gulf Coast encampment and a separate one for Women occurred at the end of February. Other get-togethers happened on smaller scales. The Hispanic members hosted a Valentine’s Day Couples Banquet, and others joined a group of ladies on a trip to San Antonio to attend the Women of Faith conference. New Bible classes like a new New Christians class and a study on the book of Acts give groups something to look forward to. Every week our Impact groups provide fellowship, study, and opportunities to serve. We have 11 of these groups so far and are in the process of developing leaders and group members to open more groups. The desire is to have a small group for everyone at Impact to connect with a smaller community of Christians so that no one is overlooked and everyone can be involved inthe work and growth of the church here. So, whether it is an organized, structured gathering or a casual, on-the-fly happening, Impact people are getting together, memories are being made, and the life that Christ desires for is body is being experienced.
Mixed Feelings about Houston Makeover
You’ve seen it happening. New towering town homes sprouting up next to rickety, run down structures. Beautification projects in the parks and neighborhood and police campaigns of “clearing out” the parks and woods surrounding the area are all part of the plan. There are some that are excited about this makeover, but some are devastated. The homeless have felt the sting of recent crackdowns. Many of the houses that have been repaired or painted by Impact groups have either been demolished or remodeled for richer tenants, while former residents have had to relocate. The people we help are having houses taken away from them. Sure, the places they have are often in horrible conditions, but for some at least it is a place they can call “home.” The face of our neighborhood is changing but our mission is still the same: minister to the poor, the hurting, and the overlooked. We want to provide the best kind of ministry and connect people to Christ. We continue to offer help to those who are struggling in this and surrounding areas, but pray for guidance in how to reach our new neighbors and invite them to participate in the plans that God has for central Houston. Houston may want an Extreme Makeover downtown, but no real change occurs if the heart is not willing to be transformed. Keep praying that God touch the very core of Houston so that a true metamorphosis is realized. “Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” -Proverbs 19:21
Conversando Entre Amigas

The Hispanic Ladies group at Impact called “Conversando Entre Amigas” began its year with a 7-week class called Familias con Confianza (Families with Trust or Confidence). This course was provided by the ESCAPE Center; Resources for the Family. This group is made up of at least 30 mothers of families. Just walking through their first class, I was struck by the professionalism of the teachers and the attention they commanded. The women are excited about learning techniques that can help them through difficult days, and have already been surprised with how directly the class hits home (no pun intended.) The Ladies group began to provide housewives a break during the day to get to know one another and open opportunity for bible study or Christian community. The class from ESCAPE was provided by an anonymous donor through the Family Resource Center. The class is designed to provide information and train students to be the best parents they can be. We have been blessed to have such a wonderful opportunity that has already proven effective as an outreach to the community. Steven Wells & Madalena Gallindo

Dimas Velazquez had, as a young boy growing up in El Salvador, a dream about working in the church. He tried to go to seminary and worked toward becoming a priest, but due to political reasons was not able to finish. Having moved to the States more than 20 years ago with his wife, Antonia, his dream was all but forgotten. In time, former Impact minister Calvin Henry knocked on his door seeing if he needed groceries and/or prayers. His wife started to attend Impact and soon convinced Dimas to check it out. At first uncertain about the church and the different customs, he became more and more involved, and was baptized within several months. Since that time, he has been one of Impact’s strongest members, serving as an elder for 8 years. He was living his boyhood dream, yet God was calling him toward more. He was invited to study at the Texas Gulf Coast Bible Institute and after two years of intensive training, graduated “with honors” as one of the Institute’s first graduates in December of 2007. Now Dimas’ dream is to serve God full-time at Impact as a Hispanic minister. He still serves as an elder. He still preaches, teaches, and helps out like he has been for years. The only difference is, this is all he does now. It is all he wants to do. He is living his dream. -Steven Wells

Audra Moore: This January we have been blessed to have Audra Moore join our youth team as a year-long girl’s intern. We have many young women in our youth group who are wanting to grow deeper in the walk with the Lord, and they have been in need of a solid Christian woman who can walk with them. We have many great women volunteers, and this addition of Audra to our staff is a tremendous blessing.
Audra first came to Impact 4 years ago with a group from Lubbock Christian University, where she received her bachelor’s degree. She interned with our High School Youth the following summer and was a wonderful mentor for our youth. Since graduating, Audra spent more than a year doing mission work in Uganda, and is now pursuing her master’s degree in public health at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. Audra joins us with full support from her home congregation, Central Church of Christ in Amarillo, TX, who we are very grateful to. We’re looking forward to all the amazing ways God will be using her here at Impact! -Dennis Jaeger

<— David Beegle: “COMINGS AND GOINGS” Barbara Mantooth has been our Director of the Distribution Center for only a short time, but has been outstanding in that capacity. Her husband’s work transfer has necessitated a move making her continued participation here more difficult. She will find another challenge closer to her new home requiring us to find a suitable replacement. God has provided!! Already here often in working with those in the process of recovery, David Beegle (wife, Margaret) was quick to place his name in for the vacant position. That being a part-time position, he is still seeking funding to devote more time to the recovery program and an added outreach for job placement. He will assume his duties on Feb. 1 following a month of training with Barbara. He brings a wealth of experience in this type of endeavor as well as a long history in sales to the retail food industry. He hopes to be able to utilize some of those contacts in enlarging our sources for commodities to offer in the distribution center. -Doug Williams
Reconnecting a Family

Having enjoyed a short, but pleasant time with family over the holidays, I was reminded how blessed I am to have family to be part of and to have in my life. There are many who spend this season adjusting to the loss of a loved one. Many of the Outdoorsmen we serve at Impact, those who live on the streets of Houston, have not seen or had contact with family for years.
This past month, the ministers who work with the homeless were blessed to help one of our regulars receive quite the Christmas present. This particular man was suffering with some medical problems and needed care, yet without any identification could not receive any help. With some persistent investigation, Doug Williams, who has worked at Impact from the beginning, made some important discoveries. After over 30 years of separation, a family was reunited with a simple phonecall. The joyous connection also led to information that opened unexpected doors of available help. Praise God for the help and happy reuinion. Pray that we keep connected to and serving our Father.
Still more January news:

Ø What better way to start off the 41st year than with three baptisms. On Jauary 8th, while the congregation was gathered for a bilingual service, Susana Quintero and Claudia Morales were added to the kingdom. Claudia was able to celebrate another “new birth” 5 days later as she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. A couple of days later, D’meisha Woods was baptized by one of her peers.
o A new Christians class has begun again for the most recent additions to our body. This is an 8-week class designed to give new Christians the tools and disciplines to continue to feed themselves and grow in God’s purposes for them. It also affords good encouragement and accountability to each member of the class in some of their most vulnerable moments. My wife Ami and I facilitate this class, and already feel that we will be receiving as much from this class as anyone else.

Ø Get-togethers are so important to a congregation’ body life. It leads to greater connection and growth. We have enjoyed some great times of fellowship this month:

o The High School boys got away on a hiking/camping trip to grow as a group and learn to depend on one another more.
o The high school and jr. High girls attended Girls Reflecting Glory
o Impact groups are having special events outside of the scheduled meeting to fellowship
o Several groups got together for the Superbowl:
§ Two cells combined on the English side for a Superbowl party and to encourage each other.
§ Several members hosted the homeless for a Superbowl party at the church building.
§ Other get-togethers happened on smaller scales.Almost the entire congregation came to celebrate Manuelito Flores’ birthday. We enjoyed the food, the games, the toys and candy for kids, and a piñata. Manuel had a great time. Confined to a wheelchair and with limited ability to communicate and control his motor skills, Manuel none-the-less makes a huge impact in the hearts of so many as church. Sure, he may make your head turn as he screams out with glee at any given moment, but he is all smiles and always thinks of others. He loves to be greeted, hugged, and petted and always takes your hand to whoever is at his side to make sure you also greet someone else, too. His sister, Estrella calls him her son and cares for him valiantly and wanted his miraculous 40th birthday to be something special. And it really was.
Surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses

Today at Impact, during the weekly ministers meeting, we were asked what we thought our “gifts” were. Of course, because of who they are they humbly replied with inadequate answers. I wanted to stand up and start rattling off, “Hey, but you forgot this.. and this…and this….,” because, really, I am surrounded by a very talented group doing incredible things in very different areas. Impact is an amazing place, but it takes that large group of amazing people to love it and serve there. It is humbling to just hang out with these heroes of faith, and it is edifying to just “hang in there” with them as well. As Paul Woodward quipped, “There may be a lot of ministers working here, but the work is ‘labor-intensive’ to put it mildly.” God has done some amazing things through Impact supporters, and has done some amazing things in the lives of members here, but this group of workers/ministers is also a great testimony of God’s amazing love, grace, and power.
An impact high school youth was convicted in his heart to ask his youth minister, Dennis Jaeger, for help after a July summer devotional. God was moving him to be courageous and take a leap of faith. He disclosed to Dennis that he wanted help in reading.
What an amazing step of faith and love! He felt safe to confide in his youth minister of a serious problem that he was willing to take necessary steps to change his course in life.
The impact high school youth is a young man, by the name of Demetrius very sweet and bright person. I have the pleasure of tutoring him one on one for the past few months.
The background of his life academically was of that of many of our Impact kids. They (HISD school system) lack the time, care, and consideration to truly raise life long readers in the HISD school system. He is considered “special needs” by HISD, however; I have assessed him and his performance on reading test does not indicate “special needs” label.
He does have a very mild stuttering problem that can be overcome with a constant reading of books out loud. He has the basic foundational skills of reading.
In tutoring, I challenge him by exposing him to different reading materials and writing activities that requires us to go on reading adventures such as parks & museums.
Demetrius enjoys the opportunity of having someone motivate and encourage him to read.
I am so blessed to have this opportunity to work with him one on one. ~Chevone McKinney
More January items

Ø The Reuniones de las Damas on Thursdays continue to be an encouragement, and an outreach. God is blessing the persistence and faith of the ever-bubbly Magdalena Galindo. The events are not only well attended, but well planned, and provide opportunity for others to serve. This week we were blessed to arrange classes for area housewives through the Family Resource Center. An anonymous donor paid for teachers and materials for a 7-week course on dealing with the stresses of everyday life in the home. Classes range from Finances to Child Discipline to Dealing with stress, to Conflict resolution.

This past weekend I (Steven Wells) was privileged with the opportunity to be with the Webb Chapel Church of Christ for their Friends Day/Bilingual service. They wanted to know about cultural differences, and we were able to point out not only the striking differences between the Hispanic and North American cultures, but we also got some insight as to why. We were encouraged in how best to edify one another, wait on one another, and laugh at ourselves, too. During the worship hour, I repeated a visual lesson I did during Impact’s last bilingual service: painting two panels with images almost mirroring one another, one side in English and the other in Spanish, then when the lesson was complete, both panels combined to show the face of Christ.
January News

Winter Wonderland at Impact
Imagine 28 stations of fun, activity, and attention. Add a little candy, some toys, and the mystique of Santa Claus and you’ve got a veritable wonderland for boys and girls. Sure, carnivals and festivals and parties enchant us all in our childhoods, but when you sleep in house without heating and sometimes on the floor, the experience may be even more magical. Of course this is not the case for all the kids, but among this group of youngsters are those whose day-to-day existence is far from magical. But thanks to efforts of the various churches who volunteered time, people, and expenses to participate in events like this, these kids can look forward not only to a holiday season, but to the people who believe in the one who came to bring life in abundance. Those same people who provided toys to 300 families, who organized the largest party of the year, who donated tons of clothing and food for the distribution center, who made hundreds of blankets available for the homeless, and who fed the hungry on days typically set aside for feasting with family, these are the ones who are shining a light of hope that can lead the needy out of darkness and into the light of Christ. Thanks to all who shared the light and love of Christ through Impact.

Daryl Washington sings along as Impact members carol at some apartments in 5th Ward to a pleasantly stunned crowd. The neighbors are still talking about it!

Mixing up a dish to serve, this member of Missouri Street is just one of hundreds who came to serve food in December at Impact.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Houston Marathon 2008:

We are proud of our Impact Ladies who participated!

Way to go!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Impact en Mexico

Dimas Velazquez, an Impact elder for 8 years now, recently graduated from the Texas Gulf Coast Institute of Biblical Studies and is hoping to work at Impact full time as a minister to the Hispanic community. The following is an account of a recent trip he took to carry the gospel to some villages in the mountains of Mexico.

"In the last week of 2007, I (Dimas Velazquez) was in the ranch of Acuna, of the village called Doctor Arrollo, in the state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico to help Brother Ignacio Barcenas on an evangelical campaign, and get to know the other communities in the area. I was surprised to find in the ranch, El Refugio (the Refuge), brothers in Christ who were working in the highest calling in one of the highest places. This little village lies up in the mountains 25 kilometers from the nearest city and normally takes 5 or 6 hours to get there by car, but the Christians there have the blessing of using Impact's "van number 7" which was donated to them to move around in. As you can see in the photo, it still carries the Ipact logo. The bretheren are very thankful to us, because now they can reach more communities with the gospel, and the people there whom we visited are people with great needs, waiting on all kinds of help. If there is any possibility, they could definatively use more vans. Our hope is to return the second week in July, if God permits, to hold a campaign. We would love to take a group of our family to support our brothers and sisters there. They are very grateful to Impact, and send you salutations." -Jose Dimas Velazquez