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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST FROM MISSIONARIES IN KENYA



I am sorry if you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of e-mail prayer requests from us. These are troubled times here in Kenya. Here are some urgent items to bring before the Lord today, if you will:

Daniel Okello, our tall Luo Harvest Compassion coordinator, was rescued yesterday by God's hand just at the entrance to Kibera. He was coming to work and alighted from his matatu at his normal stop at the entrance to Kibera, but yesterday, there were armed Mungiki thugs right there with pangas and knives, killing all the Luos they could find. Daniel is very obviously Luo. The gang saw him, but he just kept on walking toward our house, and none of them followed him!--around the corner there was a vanload of policemen parked and waiting--as soon as he was in sight of the police van Daniel knew he was probably safe--but the incident really shook him....and us! Lawrence, our shamba man, also had to take another route to work yesterday. At least 3 Luos were hacked to death just a minute's walk or less from our house yesterday--and more inside Kibera. We saw the smoke from Soweto where houses of Luos and Luhyas are being torched--and heard more gun fire from Kibera yesterday afternoon. It is such a evil time here in Kenya--revenge killings sweeping the nation. Praise God with us for Daniel's safety yesterday--ask Him for wisdom about how to handle security issues for our Harvest staff.

It is getting harder and harder to carry on with "life as normal". We went out to Kiambu yesterday to welcome some church friends' new baby. Kiambu has been a low-security zone and trouble spot--but it was peaceful yesterday, and especially in the little oasis where our friends live side-by-side with people of all ethnic backgrounds in peace. But, just a few miles away in the same Kiambu area, Nebert Mtange (Harvest Impact Ministries director) and his wife Jane have been threatened with eviction letters--they have until today to leave their house (they are Luhya/Kalenjin by tribe, living in a prodominately Kikuyu area). We hope that they move into the Harvest office, but Nebert, though he is afraid for his family, is reluctant to leave because he knows once he does all of his belongings will be torched. Please pray for wisdom for Nebert as he makes decisions about whether or not to flee.

Thank you for standing by us in these troubled times. Your prayers are accomplishing more than you (or we) know! From Larry and Judy Niemeyer...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is a holiday when we pause to consider the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was the leading civil rights leader of our nation. His life was taken from him prematurely, and yet still today, his words and life are remembered for their role in making our nation ONE nation under God.

I like this picture for several reasons... but one reason, in particular, that I'd like to share. If you click on the picture, it should enlarge, and if you look carefully, you can see there were a LOT of Caucasians in the crowd that day. In the middle of Dr. King's speech, he actually addresses the "white" people in the crowd. Right in the center section of his famous speech given that day in Washington, he says that the reason they are here is because "THEIR DESTINY is LINKED with OUR DESTINY." And he was correct!!!

Most of my life, I have believed that God sees all of His children as the same, and that all races are equal is HIS sight. It is because of this belief that I have always encouraged diversity in the church, and I thank the Lord for blessing us in this endeavor.

I will write in a few days about a NEW ministry we have started regarding the development of racial diversity in churches and colleges around America. I am excited to share, so check back in a few days for a very important announcement concerning... WE HAVE A DREAM!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

SIGNATURE OF JESUS

Most people begin the new year with a plan, whether it is as simple as a resolution, or as comprehensive as a multi-step strategy to keep you on track for improvement. Similarly, Shepherd of the Hills Church operates on a plan, in order to focus on a common theme that comprises the activities, events, and sermons of the entire year. This vision or theme helps us maintain our focus and purpose as well as ensure progress throughout the year.

If you think keeping your personal schedule organized is difficult, imagine planning for an entire church with 10,000 members. As the Senior Pastor, I’m humbled by the responsibility of developing the direction for our congregation year by year. So how do I decide on a theme? Typically, I take two weeks in August to seek God’s direction for the next year. I plan the schedule based on that guidance, and I usually begin by looking at last year’s theme. Our theme for 2007 was “Stewardship,” which dealt with being accountable for the blessings God has given us, such as our treasure (finances), talent, time, and truth (the Gospel of Jesus Christ). The previous year’s theme becomes a stepping-stone to take us as a church to another place that the previous year did not.

Furthermore, I try to get a feel of the spiritual pulse of our church. Because I spend so much time watching over and praying for our church, I develop a sense of where our church is spiritually, and the Lord impresses upon my heart the direction in which we should go. In addition, even as I strive to plan for the coming year, I am very sensitive to what the church might be doing for the year after. So, it is almost like working two years in advance.
For 2008, our theme is “The Signature of Jesus,” which was inspired by the book of the same title written by Brennan Manning. Just as we all have signatures that we use to verify our identity, Jesus Christ’s signature—the cross—bears His. It is the symbol of our salvation through His death and resurrection to pay for the penalty of our sins. It is also the pattern for our lives in which Jesus calls us to love and bless others, even if it means sacrificing our own comfort. We invite you to join us this year as we walk through a series of messages focused entirely on Jesus: The Person of Jesus, The Power of Jesus, The Parables of Jesus, The Passion of Jesus, The Preaching of Jesus, and The Prophecy of Jesus. (Please visit www.callonJesus.com for the sermon schedule for this year.)

In addition to learning about Jesus each week, we will commence new projects that will translate these messages from words to action in the community and world. On March 15 and 16, we will kick off the first of our Community Days in which we hope to make Jesus’ love known to the community through acts of service, such as trash and graffiti removal and cleaning, for our local schools and businesses. Moreover, we want to bless individuals on a personal level, just as Jesus did during His ministry here on earth. Through the Signature Project, we hope to show people who don’t know Christ, the signature of Jesus by extending His love and care to them. This includes serving in any way from fixing up the yard of an elderly neighbor, to making a dream come true for someone who is ill. (Please visit www.signatureofjesus.com to learn more about these projects and how to get involved.) We will also trace the very steps of Jesus as I, and one hundred other people from our church, travel to Israel in May, as well as carry His love to the reaches of the world as a large group of us sets off for China in August.

We invite you to join us as we embark on this new adventure of knowing, experiencing, and living out the signature of love that Christ Jesus desires to place in our hearts—throughout the community and the world!

Thank You From Paris

I just had to write and say thank you for hosting the services live over the internet. My wife Katie and I, who are members at the church there, decided to come out to Paris this year for Christmas, just the two of us. It's been beautiful, romantic, and COLD here! But if there's one thing we really miss this Christmas, it's being around our family of believers and enjoying the traditional Christmas services.

Well, last night I was suffering some effects of "jet-lag" and started to think about home. I looked at my hometown's newspaper site to see what was going on for Christmas, then I thought I'd take a look at my home church and see what was going on. I saw that I could stream live services, so I went ahead and clicked on it and I couldn't believe what I saw! Katie's uncle Larry singing a Christmas song in front of the church! Live! It was the 7:00pm service there (yes, it was 4:00am here!) I watched a little bit, and then realized that the 11:00pm service would be at 8:00am here. So I forced myself back to sleep and then woke up my wife and I early to watch the whole service at 8.


Wow, what a blessing for both of us. It really was the best way to start our Christmas day in Paris and made us feel close to home even while way over here across the Atlantic. So I wanted to again just say thank you to the team of people that work on this website and make it possible for people all over to access Shepherd of the Hills.


God Bless!

Brian & Katie

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Joshua Weaver Went to Glory

I know that I have not posted in a while... but for a reason. I was out of town and then I received the news that my dear brother and former Worship Pastor here at Shepherd of the Hills Church, Joshua Weaver, had died and gone on to be with the Lord on January 1, 2008.

Joshua was a Godly man who blessed my life and our church each and every time he led worship. I wanted him to be the first thing I posted about in 2008 and I did NOT want to post until after his funeral, which was today at 11:00 a.m.

The service today was a celebration of his life. We sang a couple of the songs that HE had written and Coach Bobby Brasswell spoke for a few minutes. There was a choir called Voice Of Praises that Joshua used to belong to, and they sang a couple worship songs. I spoke for about 30 minutes, honoring his life, encouraging his wife, Irene, and referenced the scripture in Philippians that says "to live is Christ, but to die is gain." It was a wonderful service, and I am sure that Joshua would have been pleased, and I believe that the Lord was glorified.

I want to encourage you to pray for his wife, Irene, that God would strengthen her each and every day.

Joshua, my dear brother, I know you are in a better place, and I know that you are with Jesus. Thank you for letting your light shine here at Shepherd, and thank you for using your gifts in leading us to worship the Lord with songs of praise. You are so missed, but we are thankful that you are at Jesus' side. We shall meet once again "on that beautiful shore." We miss you, we miss your presence, we miss your voice, we miss your smile, and we miss your worship.

In love,
Pastor Dudley