Category Archives: Special Topics

Mission of the Month: Rohingya refugees flee to Bangladesh

By Dietrich Gruen, with Lee Wanak

Persecution does not take a day off. Refugees seeking asylum from their murderous persecutors are always on the run. When not running for their life, they are crossing fortified borders and dangerous waters in search of a safe place. Here in the USA, the Church designates one day, First Sunday in November, as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP for the PC); that day Elder Mark Finley led us in prayer. Next month we extend our concern for persecuted believers as we allocate our year-end gifts in the Generosity Campaign, some of which will support one particular group of persecuted believers on the run—the Rohingya refugees.

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The plight of Rohingya people fleeing persecution in Myanmar is captured in several images from TIME magazine. See the photo essay here.

Continue reading Mission of the Month: Rohingya refugees flee to Bangladesh

Self Defense and the Church

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor {Leviticus 19:18} and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48  

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” lend to “sinners,” expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 6:33-37  

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; {37 Isaiah 53:12} and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”  The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied.

Luke 22:35-38

Last Sunday, 26 people were killed at a Baptist church in Texas by an active shooter. This shooter was eventually stopped by a citizen church-goer who killed him with a shotgun. Many difficult questions arise in the aftermath of tragic events such as this. What are we to make of this tragedy? And how are we to live in a world like this one? How should we, as Christians, respond to violence? And in what way should we anticipate violence? It is one thing not to take revenge, but are we supposed to defend ourselves? Or are there certain times where we might defend ourselves, while not at other times? Continue reading Self Defense and the Church

Mission of the Month: Disaster Relief, Ordinary Heroes and the King of Floods

by Dietrich Gruen

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After the race-whipped riots at Charlottesville (August 12) exposed deep divisions and ugly disrespect in this country, we all welcomed with relief and euphoria the day the moon eclipsed sun—and for that day, all other news (August 21).  We now turn the eyes of our hearts and hands of hope to the disaster relief efforts underway in the Houston area.  We cheer the everyday heroes surfacing during Hurricane Harvey, as it whips Houston with a one-two punch of rain and flood “not seen in 500 years.”  Continue reading Mission of the Month: Disaster Relief, Ordinary Heroes and the King of Floods

Podcast Companion: The Good News about Honor and Shame

Did you know High Point Church has a podcast?? Our Engage and Equip podcast is updated a few times a month with new episodes designed to engage and equip substantive disciples for the local church. We’ve covered things like art and worship, Christians’ responses to the 2016 election, hospitality, religious liberty, High Point Church’s thematic goals and vision, and testimonies from multiple staff members.

You can listen to the podcast on our website, through iTunes, or with your favorite podcast app. Just search for “Engage and Equip” to get started in iTunes or apps.

We recently aired an episode called, “The Good News about Honor and Shame” in which we compare our culture’s narrative about shame with how it is addressed in Scripture, looking at the gospel through a lens that may be new to some of us. Nic and Jill Reasa, our Communications Coordinator, discussed insecurity in the episode before this one, titled, “Overcoming Insecurity.” Check it out!

FOR FURTHER STUDY

We referenced a few different resources in the podcast, and there were many more we wished we could reference, so we collected a few for you here. We hope you enjoy diving into the good news of our freedom from shame in Christ and, like we have, come to appreciate the gospel in a fresh way.

Continue reading Podcast Companion: The Good News about Honor and Shame

Further Study in Stewardship

In the sermon on Sunday, we learned about stewardship. If you missed it, you can listen to the sermon Owning Nothing, Investing Everything here.

Stewardship is fundamental to our identity as Christians but is often under-addressed in teachings about becoming a substantive, thriving disciple of Jesus. Since we don’t discuss it very often, I encourage you to learn a bit more on your own. Here are two excellent resources to get you started:

Faithful in All God’s House: Stewardship and the Christian Life by Gerard Berghoef and Lester DeKoster (2013)Faithful in All Gods House

This is one of the most straightforward and comprehensive guides I’ve found for the issue of Christian stewardship. Coming in at 110 pages, it’s a slim and satisfying read that gives you a surprisingly broad and deep look at what it means to live as the bearers of a trust from God.

A 20 Day Study in Stewardship by Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Rev. Tim Keller)

20 Day Study in Stewardship (cover)

This is a free PDF published by Redeemer Presbyterian Church, pastored by Rev. Tim Keller. It leads readers through twenty daily studies/meditations on the subject of biblical stewardship. Since stewardship isn’t only a concept to be understood, but a reality to embody, this kind of daily exploration–digesting small pieces over a period of time–can be particularly useful in making space for the Spirit to renew our minds. You can download the PDF on their website here. Scroll down to the section titled “Devotional,” and you’ll find a link.

Mission of the Month: Child Sponsorship in El Amirante

By Dietrich Gruen

It was a father-son bonding moment. When Josue first sighted and tugged at me, I gazed into his big, brown, irresistible eyes. I said to myself, We could be related. My friend, Casey, took his picture, capturing this “please-love-me” moment for all time.

Josue is just what Sue (my wife) and I were looking for—a 5-year-old, fatherless child to sponsor. It was hard to pick one from among the hundreds of young kids crowding our team members in the poor barrio of Santo Domingo. Much easier if one particular kid picks me, I thought. That’s just how our connection came together for Josue and me.

However, over half of our child sponsors do not go on mission trips to our partner community, El Amirante, in the Dominican Republic (DR). But while you may not be able to go, you can still impact a child’s life through child sponsorship.

On Sunday, March 5, Hands of Hope-DR will again host the annual Pancake Breakfast in the High Point Church Micah Center, where you will have the opportunity to sign up to sponsor a child. Need more time to think it over after the breakfast? You can visit the Hands Of Hope-DR website to check out the ministry and the communities it serves. Under the Child Sponsorship tab, choose the community of El Almirante to view the 50 children available for sponsorship in our partner community. Browse the profiles, then take the step to start a relationship of encouragement and hope.

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Wait—is this kind of charity helpful and effective?

Your sponsorship gift of $32/month provides a child (and siblings) with school uniforms and supplies; annual medical, dental, hearing and vision checkups; birthday and Christmas parties; and food boxes twice a year. Plus, the healthcare can result in a child receiving additional benefits, such as hearing aids or asthma medication. To hear more about child sponsorship and community development in the El Amirante community, listen to the Dominican Republic Partnership interview posted on Tuesday, February 28 on the High Point Church Engage & Equip podcast.

As a child sponsor, you will see God work and have a story to tell.

The sponsoring churches in Madison (High Point Church and Crossroads Church) have formed many relationships in the Dominican Republic over the years. Here is evidence of these connections that I’ve witnessed. May these stories “spur you on to more love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

I’ve seen Doug, Brennen and Rick try to master spinning tops as several kids in the Dominican Republic taught them how to play. And I’ve seen Rick teach Kiever to throw and catch a baseball, just as I’ve taught Josue football.

I’ve seen Codi and Marisa laugh and hug their sponsored boy for the first time.  And at a band concert held in the town square one night, I’ve seen kids and their sponsors dance the night away together.

I’ve seen Brennen get kids to chase him so that Lynn Rawhouser could personally visit her sponsored kids and family members without other onlookers crowding in.

I’ve seen kids line up in front of the church to be lifted in the air by Doug and Femi, and kids in the library cram side-by-side on the couch to look at donated books as a sponsor parent Rhonda pointed out things of interest.

I’ve seen child sponsors provide kids with what they need. Jeff and Rhonda once gathered under the tree outside the shed that serves as their sponsor boy’s house, supplying him with physical care. With the boy’s father long gone and his mother disappearing with boyfriends, his grandmother and grandfather are the only ones who regularly care for him. Jeff and Rhonda get to support the family and supply clothes and shoes for the boy.

Like in other relationships, I’ve seen child sponsors share heartaches with their sponsor children and intercede in prayer on behalf of their families during adversity. Vicki learned that her sponsor children’s father, an alcoholic and spendthrift, also suffers from Lyme disease. Similarly, I learned that Josue’s father abused and abandoned the family, leaving the family to survive on $2/day.

Child sponsorship inspires initiative and hope that spreads to the community. I’ve seen Casey visit Kiever’s house, ask him about his favorite things to do, and learn that the boy likes to read. And when she didn’t see any books in his house (or in any Dominican Republic house that year), Casey was inspired to start a library—benefiting all the kids and adults in the community. Now dozens are learning their ABCs and numbers. Can you image a 10-year-old not knowing those basic skills? Child sponsors are doing something about that.

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Reaching the world through cross-cultural connections

These connections form into strong bonds as sponsors share life with their sponsor children through written letters. If you have children of your own, they can learn to pray for their sponsored child as one of their siblings. As a sponsor, you will also get Hands of Hope’s quarterly newsletter that brings you up-to-date on what’s happening in the El Amirante community.

So, will you join us? Check out the sponsorship program at the Pancake Breakfast on March 5 or visit the Hands of Hope website.