Tag: Texas

God’s Vision:
Investing in our City


Last year, my husband Blake and I attended a banquet for Restoration Gateway—a ministry in Northern Uganda begun by our dear family friends Tim and Janice McCall.  Since they began their ministry 10 years ago, they have grown to house more than 100 orphans and have established a homestead, school, hospital and fishery on their 700-acre lot. The banquet emcee commented on the impressive growth of the ministry and asked Tim, “What’s your next dream for this place?” He replied,

“It’s not about my dream, it’s about God’s vision.”

This response pierced me and continues to reshape my perspective of what is happening right now in our small corner of the world—it’s not about our dream, it’s about God’s vision.

This morning I was reading John 6, where Jesus feeds five thousand people from one boy’s small supply of five loaves and two fish. He fed the people and they marveled, wanting to make Him king. While reading I thought– this is the prayer of my heart:

that Jesus would take our small provision and multiply it into revelation of Himself to others.

I want this to be the reason why we do the work God has given our hands to do – not simply to see our dreams come to fruition but to be obedient to what has been initiated within us, that His vision may be manifested right here. As I continue to grow in this mindset, it brings infinite meaning into the here and now because my daily work—work that seems unrelated to “ministry”— is infused with eternal purpose.

“One sows and another reaps.” [John 4:37]

As the rain soaks in the ground outside now, I can’t help but think of the decades of prayer for this town that have gone before us, preparing the soil for all that is happening. Those prayers have made ripe the opportunities to dream, build, grow, and uncover what we ‘pioneer-spirits’ are living into right now. The mantle now comes to us to live into what has been prepared and made ready with great attentiveness and care. He is gracious, and I feel so grateful to live here at this time, at this hour. How often in life does one really feel they can make an eternal and economic impact on a place? Honestly, it’s thrilling to me.

If you’re in Waco right now, you’re being invited into God’s vision for this place.

Maybe you would rather be somewhere else, or maybe you know you won’t be here forever. But the challenge remains to “dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness” [Psalm 37]. Perhaps it isn’t as much a choice about ‘investing in Waco’ as it is to surrender yourself to be fruitful, wherever you’re planted. It is daring and hard to choose and love a place and people despite the messiness, the mistakes, the mishaps—to live the unglamorous days. God can feed five thousand people with a boy’s small offering, and He can take our lives—whatever they hold—and further His vision for such a time as this.

What can you do to cultivate?

PRAY

“The farther the outward journey takes you, the deeper the inward journey must be.  Only when your roots are deep can your fruit be abundant.”  -Henri Nouwen

  • Pray that as we expand and grow as a city, that our roots would grow deeper
  • Pray that the City of Waco would make the wisest choices for outlining our growth, that the right people would be in the right positions making the best decisions.
  • Ask the Lord what it is you have to give—dreams, resources, ambitions, anything—through which He might reveal Himself and manifest His vision.

TIME

Link up with programs in the city that are driven by the real needs of real people. Link up with programs that Antioch has going on to connect with the community, like the STARS program, Grace House, or the Community Feast. If we are focused more on new restaurants and less on people, then we miss it. We truly progress if we ALL progress, and this starts at a one-on-one level.

By Kimberly Batson

How to Pray for Our City

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:14

I’m convinced Waco is a city set on a hill. The Lord has spoken words of life over Waco time and time again, and we have the opportunity to partner with Him to see the glory of God magnified in this place.

In the early 1900s Waco was known as a place of hope and healing. People would travel from all over to visit the artesian springs that supposedly had healing powers. The springs are long gone, but healing, restoration and hope is still something that marks our city.

WEEK AFTER WEEK PEOPLE POUR INTO WACO WITH HOPE AND EXPECTANCY.

Waco doesn’t only hold an expectation for physical healing it has also poised itself to be a place for people to find restoration and life in Jesus. Years ago revival was evident at Baylor University. At a conference, students were stirred by the presence of God and found themselves with a desire to be completely sold out to God. This desire is still alive in people all over our city. Last week we hosted Nights of Revival, and the Auditorium was packed night after night as people encountered the presence of God and hungered for more.

Driving around Waco, it is evident our city is filled with different cultures. Our city is painted with diversity, and it’s not only beautiful, but needed. As we’re unified throughout our city, God is glorified. Two years ago churches across the city came together to host The Gathering, a city-wide worship celebration. The culture of Heaven was on display at McLane Stadium as people were unified to worship Jesus.

Waco is a place marked by God, and through prayer, we have the opportunity to believe for His Kingdom to come in our city.

HOW TO PRAY FOR WACO

  • Hope and Healing // Whether someone is in need of physical or emotional healing, pray for God to miraculously heal those needing a touch from Him. Pray for hope to be ignited throughout Waco, and for the hopeless to find fresh life.
  • Revival // Pray for a move of God to spread across Waco, and for people to deeply encounter the presence of God. Pray for those in our city that don’t know Jesus to meet Him in a real way.
  • Unity // Pray for the culture of Heaven to be a reality in Waco as we learn to celebrate the diversity of our city. Pray for the churches in our city to lead out in being unified.
  • The Gathering // This Sunday, April 9th, our city will come together to host The Gathering at McLane Stadium once again. Pray for the leaders and speakers to be covered, and for people to fill the stadium and find hope and life in Jesus.

Join us at The Gathering, this Sunday, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at McLane Stadium. It will be a powerful time as we worship and hear from Pastor Miles McPherson, Baylor basketball coach Scott Drew and musical artist Anthony Evans. Doors open at 4:15 p.m. and the event is free, but we encourage you to bring canned goods to donate to Caritas and Shepherd’s Heart food pantries. Learn more, including information on where to park at thegatheringwaco.com.

By Destiny Gonzalez – Communications Coordinator

Building Update

We are thrilled to announce God provided more than $264,000 towards our building in the last few weeks! Praise God! To date, we are $655,000 from our goal to be able to begin the interior of our building. Continue to pray with us for God’s abundant provision… It’s been a journey believing God together as He builds His house, and we look forward to growing in our faith and trust in Him as we see this to completion. We are so thankful for your commitment to what God is doing through Antioch Community Church!

 

Week{end} in Pictures

What an incredible weekend! Here’s a run down of all that we did:

  • The Waco Loves West community outreach had more than 150 volunteers who helped with yard work, basic carpentry and plumbing, moving and cleaning. Watch this story about the day from KWTX.
  • Jimmy had a book signing at Mardel. Lots of people came out in support of him and his new book, Passion & Purpose.
  • On Sunday we celebrated new life with our Baby Dedication and Baptism Bash.  Eighty-five people were baptized! Watch this video to see some of the incredible stories of transformation. You will be blown away at how God’s love can impact a life!
  • Christianity Today listed Passion & Purpose in their June issue’s “New and Noteworthy” section.
  • The Waco Trib wrote a great article about some of the new things going on at Antioch.

It was such a memorable weekend!

 

Team work at its best!

Serving people in West, Texas in really practical ways like clean up and moving.

Some of the professional landscapers who helped.

Praying for the Blankenships at our Sunday church service as they head out to the LA area to plant a church.

Jimmy speaking a blessing over the babies and families at our Baby Dedication.

“There He was. There was Jesus. I’d been away from Him for 73 years and He was waiting for me to come back.”

Praying over a sweet little girl who was just baptized.

So much joy and life!

Raised to walk in newness of life!

So many sweet little ones making a decision to live for Jesus forever.

Our Spanish service, Antioch Español, held a baptism service as well!

Passion and Purpose is one of Christian Today’s “New and Noteworthy” books in their June issue:

The Waco Trib wrote a great article about some of the things going on at Antioch:

Waco Loves West

When I started working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, my first naive impression, like that of many others, was that a little would go a long way in a fast way; if we all would just put our stuff, money, head and hands together we could get the rubble cleaned up in no time at all.

What I learned in the last four years of working there though is a little does go a long way – but over a long period of time.

The initial waves of aid and interest eventually disappear, but some people keep showing up with support and encouragement over the months and years – and when they do it’s like a shot in the arm.  Just when the mountain seems insurmountable a hand reaches out with a voice that says, “I’m here to help.”

When the fertilizer plant exploded in West, Texas last year tons of aid rushed in – people, resources and money.  As time has gone on, the community has regained strength and the strangers and helpers have gradually become less… things have resumed to some version of normal.   However, what hasn’t changed is that those most impacted by the explosion are still facing incredible mountains – ones that are steep and take time to climb.

April 17th marked the one year anniversary of the explosion. Many families still need a lot of help to get their houses and yards in great shape again;

the West Long Term Recovery Committee estimates there are still 68,000 hours of volunteer work needed to complete the construction projects in West.

In light of this, Antioch Community Church is hosting a community work day on May 31st to show our continued support!  This is a great way for Lifegroups, entire families and friends to come together and link arms with our neighbors who are still in great need. Come be a part of Waco Loves West and experience the power of community restoration through the church.

More info on Waco Loves West including Sign-Up

By Erika Kraus, Assistant Director of Acts of Mercy

A Champion in Their Corner: Interview with Cheryl Pooler

Waco Independent School District classifies 10 percent of its student population as homeless.

That’s one reason why people like Cheryl Pooler are so important. Cheryl Pooler champions for many teens across Waco, and as the homeless and foster care liaison for Waco ISD, she has seen it all- from teen pregnancy to families living in tents on a campsite. But Cheryl has also witnessed a flood of restoration in the four years she has worked in this position. We sat down with her to talk about her passion for homeless youth and how God is moving in our city.

So what exactly do you do?

I’m the homeless and foster care liaison for Waco ISD, which is a federally required position for every school district in the United States.  I’m in charge of maintaining records and assisting students who are identified as homeless or in foster care. I also run the Parent Education Program for teens who have become parents way too early, and we provide an array of services for them. But by far the biggest part of my job is the homeless liaison because our district has a really large amount of students who are homeless.  It’s my job to make sure they are getting everything they need.

Who is classified as homeless?

There are different criteria that can classify someone as homeless.  A student can be identified as homeless if they are clearly living in a shelter or a motel, if their family is living in tents on a campsite, if they’ve been living in a car or if they are unaccompanied and living with other friends or family members who are not a legal guardian- I call these the couch surfing students. It also includes families who are living doubled up due to economic hardship, which is about 90 percent of the cases we see. A lot of our families are living with two or three other families under one roof because they can’t afford to live separately. I’ve seen 17 people living in a two-bedroom apartment – kids were sleeping on the floor.

In situations like this, the kids aren’t rested, there’s no privacy, no place to have a desk and there’s a lot of insecurity that goes along with this. You feel like a guest in someone else’s home and you’re one fight away from being kicked to curb and then you’re stuck looking for another place to live.

These kids are exposed to issues such as substance abuse, prostitution and human trafficking. It’s not uncommon for these kids to fall behind academically because they don’t arrive to school in the best shape to learn. They need to be rested, fed and nurtured.

What services do you provide these kids?

If a student is identified as homeless, federal law says to enroll the student regardless. The student has a right to an education. There are some key provisions with McKinney-Vento, the homeless assistance act, such as free breakfast and lunch every day. We help them with uniforms, school supplies and transportation if they need it. Since I started working here four years ago we’ve been able to really expand what we can provide for these students. We have a uniform recycling program with a local church and anytime I need a uniform for a student I fill out a form and fax it over to the church. Then one of the volunteers goes and pulls it out of their uniform store room, bags it up and it’s waiting for me at my door so I can take it to the student. We’ve provided uniforms to more than 700 kids in the last two years.

How do you see the gifts God’s given you being displayed through your job?

I think with this job you have to be comfortable with letting people be who they are. Not everybody was raised how I was raised and not everybody believes what I believe, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get help. You may be over there and I may be over here, but we can sit beside each other and I will love you and be patient, regardless of what your choices are right now. I think that’s a gift that has served me well in the job I do.

Why has this issue become a passion of yours?

What I encounter each day is not pretty and it’s not easy walking into these kinds of situations with a family who is struggling with all the issues that have led to their homelessness and economic insecurity, but I absolutely know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s what Jesus would do. Saying, “What would Jesus do?” is way more than just a bracelet, and that’s why I do what I do.

How can the church be part of what you do with Waco ISD or with what’s happening in Waco?

This is a big question, but I’ll respond from the perspective of Homeless outreach.  There is a desperate need for a Teen Nurturing Center in our community.  Other communities are offering this type of service all over the US and I truly believe Waco can make it happen.  A Teen Nurturing Center would provide a safe place for students who are in high school and coded as homeless and unaccompanied to go after school.  They would receive services such as laundry, hot meals, showers, counseling, medical care, haircuts, tutoring, mentoring, and other life skills needed to break the cycle of poverty.  In addition to the Nurturing Center, we need host families who are willing to take a student into their home until the student can graduate from high school.

How do you see God moving in Waco?

I am so grateful to the church community in Waco for answering the call to meet the needs of the poor and disenfranchised in Waco.  I see God moving in many ways and I’m proud Antioch Community Church is a shining example of how the church can impact a community.  I was honored to serve our community on the City of Waco Poverty Solutions Steering Committee, now called “Prosper Waco.”  This initiative includes a diverse group of people, business owners, church leaders, health care professionals, education alliance and community leaders who are committed to decreasing poverty in Waco.  I see large groups of people and churches from all over our community working together for the greater good of all Waco citizens.

These children need a champion in their corner; they need someone in the community to stand in the gap for whatever was missing from that student’s upbringing.

Countdown in Wacotown

February marks seven months until kickoff in Baylor’s new stadium on the Brazos.

In the year leading up to the event, the Wacotown civic arts movement has given Waco citizens an exciting reminder of the months remaining: a countdown mural on the corner of 4th Street and Franklin. We sat down with “Month Seven” designers, Antioch’s own Kyle Rogers and Mark Rockwell, to talk about the project and the revival that’s sweeping the city of Waco.

How did the process for the Wacotown Countdown Mural begin for you guys?

Kyle: Mark took me to lunch with a guy named Mike Trozzo a few months ago, and Mike’s the guy that’s heading up the “Wacotown” movement. He asked if Mark and I would want to collaborate on a number that corresponds with months of the year, counting down to the opening of the Baylor football stadium. We thought it sounded like fun so we decided to do it. In February it’ll be seven months until it opens… we got lucky number seven!

Antioch: Holy number seven…

Both laugh

Mark: Redeemed.

 

What is the brainstorming process like for a project like this?

Mark: So far there hasn’t been a collaboration yet on any of the countdown designs, so Kyle and I were trying to figure out what would be to work together on this. We decided to divide it up, so Kyle designed the number and I designed the supporting elements around the number.  We really wanted to try and maximize our space.

Kyle: We met up a couple times when we first got the project to create a rough draft. Mark’s a great character drawer and sketcher, and I think that I enjoy more hard lines and geometric stuff. We got together, made a plan, scratched the plan, and came up with something new.

 

How do you see God moving in Waco?

Mark: I feel like in the past two or three years people have really started to take ownership of our city. Even if not everyone can see God, I think feeling contentment and pride in our city has brought a sense of peace over Waco.

Jimmy talks about the local church as being the hope of the world and the cornerstone of community. How do you see that being lived out through creative arts and through this project?

Kyle: God’s going to work through His people. I think there’s been an influx of people who love Jesus, doing what they’re gifted in and wanting to be a part of seeing Waco thrive, rather than being secluded and detached from the city. I’ve got a lot of friends who are really good business men and women, or really creative people and people with great skills who want to be a part of what’s going on in the city. The thing that goes on top of that is that they love Jesus and want others to feel valued and loved. There’s a wall coming down in Waco, we’re seeing the church really use the things that God has gifted each of us with wherever we go to impact the city.

Make sure you head over to 4th and Franklin this month to check out the mural designed by Kyle and Mark in person!

God is Building His House

Dear Antioch Family,

I hope this letter finds you filled with the abundant grace of God.

As we communicated a couple of weeks ago, we are all living stones in the house of God (1 Peter 2:4-6). When each one of us is rightly fitted into God’s purpose and plan for our lives, we become a beautiful display of His glory in the earth. When God gives us opportunities like building this campus, everyone is needed and part of the team. It is so important that we all do our part.

Last Sunday, we asked everyone to fill out a commitment card, and we had 227 households turn one in. We want to give you another opportunity to respond. If you haven’t had the chance, I encourage you to take some time and ask God what your part is to play in the building process and fill out this online commitment card. We are asking everyone to turn a card in and let us know what you plan to give – whether that commitment is weekly, monthly, yearly or as you’re able. Please turn in a card even if you turned one in two years ago when we began this journey. Knowing your commitment will help us tremendously in the planning and building process. Again, it’s not just the dollar amount, but it’s the coming together around this commitment to see this journey come to pass that will give us not only faith, but the clarity needed to move forward.

In His Strength and Love,

Jimmy Seibert

Senior Pastor