Hannah’s Guest Blog!!!

​Hey guys! My name is Hannah Sims, and I am interning at the Connection in Countryside this summer. I have learned so much this summer already, and we still have weeks to go.Never in my life have I seen God work so diligently in anyone’s life,like I have seen Him work in the lives of the people of Countryside these past few weeks. One of the major things I have learned is God may not answer your prayers when you want or how you want BUT GOD… answers them. Yes, No, or Not right now, I have come to the complete understanding this summer that this is how He answers, when HE wants not when WE want. I have seen God answer all three ways this summer.
YES:
At the beginning of this summer I made some goals for my spiritual walk with God. My biggest fear was telling someone about God, and saying the wrong thing, or being asked a question that I didn’t know the answer to, or one that I just couldn’t answer. I honestly went into this internship to watch the missionaries in Countryside make disciples and I thought I would just “watch.” BUT GOD… well he had other plans, the first and second weeks of interning I was placed in positions where I was blessed to explain the Gospel to some of the kids! Just last week one of the girls that I have been “hardcore praying for” asked me some questions that I didn’t know the answers to, some questions I had to really think about before I answered. Then, I realized how much I have grown with God this summer, and I had prayed that He would push me in my weak spots, I prayed that God would give me a child that would ask questions, and I did not even realize that I had prayed this until it happened. God answered YES without me even knowing. This young lady eventually asked Jesus into her heart that day, and I got to pray with her!

NO:
Nobody likes to hear the word no, well I’m just like everyone else, I don’t like to hear that word either.. BUT GOD… well God doesn’t always say yes, but these past few months I have come to the realization that when God says no, it is for our own good. God told me no a couple of times this summer, even when I didn’t want to hear it. I’m just like every other teenager. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean that I don’t see what all the other teenagers see. I’m still tempted like every other human being, I still hear people talking about things they shouldn’t be talking about and I still hear people say words they shouldn’t say. I have come to the conclusion that some of these people are some of my closest friends, and God has given me them to be my closest and easiest way to disciple. As crazy as it sounds I asked God to just make them stop.. stop cussing, stop talking about people, stop the things that He said not to do. BUT GOD.. well God had a different plan, He didn’t just make them stop but he said No at that very moment to show me that it was my job to help them stop. God told me no so I could do what I am supposed to do as a Christian, which is to tell other people about Him.

NOT RIGHT NOW:
For me personally, I think “not right now,” is the hardest answer to get from God. I used to be the type of person when I asked a question, I wanted to know the answer right then and right there! This is probably the biggest thing I have learned so far this summer, JUST BE PATIENT! Even though this was the biggest thing I have learned, it was definitely the hardest. I have heard many Christians say, “Everything happens on God’s timing.” I’m not going to lie I have said it many times before, BUT GOD.. well HE has shown me this summer that this statement, is so true in so many ways. At the beginning of the summer, I became part of the Teen Girls Ministry at the Connection. In this ministry, our plan was to study Esther, (an AMAZING true story by the way) we had planned to meet every Thursday at 2 o’clock. The first Thursday we had 7 or 8 girls which was awesome, but the next week nobody showed back up, and this pattern continued with nobody there. We prayed for the Teen Girl Ministry, and still nobody came, but up until this week I had no idea that it is just God telling us not right now. I feel like God was telling us not right now, because He knew that I needed that time every Thursday to really understand Him more. The past few Thursday’s when nobody has shown up, I have been able to take that time with no distractions and grow closer to God and to understand Him and why He made me the way I am. He thinks I am PERFECT, just the way I am. This is why God told us not right now, and whenever we have someone to start show up is when He is saying yes, but we know that He just hasn’t said no yet. p.s- any teen girl is welcome to our Teen Girls Ministry at the Connection and we would love to have you!

So this pretty much sums up some of the things I have learned so far this summer, and the ways I have seen God work. I was more than blessed to be asked to intern at the Connection for the summer! I have learned so much and made so many lifelong connections with the kids and even the parents in Countryside. I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for this community! Thank all of you for keeping Countryside in your prayers, I also ask that you would keep me in your prayer also as I look further into what God wants me to do!
-Hannah

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Mountains and Valleys !

These past few weeks have been full of ups and downs…mountaintops and valleys. We have laughed, cried, rejoiced and prayed! I am so excited to tell you about all that has been going on in our neighborhood these past few weeks.

Victory Sports Camp

Our children at Countryside have been so amazingly blessed this summer by some wonderful church groups, and friends that have sponsored them to attend camps and VBS weeks and everything in between. They have had the Gospel spoken into their lives on a weekly sometimes even daily basis. It is a beautiful picture of what God has called his CHURCH to do J. This past week was no exception to that. We transported 21 children (in borrowed church vans) to sports camp every day and they stayed ALL day with lunch provided as well.  What a blessing to working parents trying to keep their kids safe this summer!! What a blessing for some of our neighbors that may not be able to give their children lunch each day! What a blessing to this missionary family when it is just TOO HOT to get outside and play with everyone each day of the week!

The kids learned the Gospel through some simple colors each day. At the end of camp, 5 of the children we took asked Jesus into their hearts for the 1st time! One of the youth who stayed each night and helped with camp, rededicated his own life as well.  We even had one of the youth from our youth group at church get saved too. What a day of rejoicing we had!!The camp was run by many of the youth ministers and local youth groups and it was a JOY to watch these young people learn and be able to lead others to Christ and serve so wholeheartedly!

Friday Night Lights

We were thrilled to host Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church for a time of food, fun, and fellowship at our house last Friday night. This was the 1st cookout we have had at our home and we had a great turnout. We LOVE the idea of just fellowshipping and getting to know our neighbors so that we may have the chance to point them to JESUS !!

HARD GOODBYES

Probably the hardest part of living life on mission is knowing that when God says move, WE MOVE! Such is the case for Grant and Amber Hinson (our partners and mentors here for the past year). God has told them to move. So, they have listened to his voice, just as they did three years ago when he told them to move to Lancaster. I am happy for them. But, I am sad for us as well. We will miss them. We will miss their leadership. We will miss our friends…..BUT we knew that God was preparing us for this. We are ready to step up and continue to serve in Lancaster! We love our Countryside family and I am so beyond excited to see what is in store for us now.

Would you pray for us in the next few weeks as we work out all the roles of leadership and serving at the Connection? Pray for our children as they navigate this change as well. Pray for wisdom and strength and peace as we continue to follow God’s plan for our lives!

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EXCITING THINGS COMING UP!!

My next blog post will be from Hannah Sims, one of our interns this summer. She is so excited to share what the Lord has been doing in and through her this summer!!

We have a Back to School Bash happening next week!! If you are interested in helping with that please contact us by phone or email!! We also are accepting donations of school supplies to stuff those backpacks and help our kids enter this school year prepared to learn!

Love you guys and thanks in advance for your prayers!!

The Hope House

The Hope House

I have already begun to tell little bits and pieces of what the Hope House is and why it was founded but I thought I would share with you a few of the details about what has been happening with this house and how we have seen God move!

First…THE WHY

We have seen a great need by many young people in our neighborhood that do not have the support of a family to really start their lives. These young adults do not have driver’s licenses, jobs, or even homes. We see this house as a transition house. A place where they can begin to build or even begin to rebuild their lives.

The How

This is a really exciting part of this journey!!! A few months ago we just really began praying about this need and reaching out to some of our prayer warriors to do the same. I really had this feeling that the house would be the one directly behind our house. There was just one problem. Someone already lived there!! Regardless, I began praying that God would show us which house would be “The One” and I prayed that if it was God’s will, that it would be the one behind us (for so many logistical reasons). We even met with the landlord and told him our plans for this house and to let us know when one became available. In God’s amazing way of working all things out, while we were out of town last week, our landlord called and told us the person behind us was moving out and the house was ours if we want it. We were beyond thrilled!!

What Now?? How does this work??

Now we PRAY!! And we ask you all to PRAY with us. Our first Hope House occupant will be William. He is a brand new believer and has many challenges to overcome as well. We pray that his time here will help him to start a brand new life for himself. He has already taken so many steps along that path and come so far. Pray for him and pray for us as we learn together what this part of ministry here looks like. Our vision is that MANY believers will leave handprints on this house and on his heart along the way. Pray about how God would move you to do that.

GIVE….

The Hope House has many needs at this time and I will list just a few of those here. Feel free to share this list with others too!

Funding– We are stepping out in faith that God will use his people to provide for every need of this house. At first, we hope that the rent and bills will be taken care of to allow the occupant to take care of any other obstacles in their way(ex. finding a job, paying down probation, having a baby etc). Maybe you can be a part of this?

Furniture– Amazingly many things have been given already but we are in need of a few big items (and small ones too)

  • Washer
  • Dryer
  • Towels for bathroom and kitchen
  • Plates, Cups and Silverware
  • Blinds and Curtains for all of the windows

Time– One big need for William is for great Christian friends to hang out with. Maybe your family would want to host him for dinner? Maybe you have a guy’s Bible study? Maybe you just would like to take him to dinner one night. My prayer is that he would see God richly supply true friendships like never before!

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers!

Love,

Nancy

Our BIG News….

We have been so busy this summer that we have barely even had time to rest much less update our blog, so I wanted to share with you all that the Lord has been doing in our lives and in the lives of our neighbors as well.

FCA POWERCAMP….

This camp was one of the highlights of our summer so far! Many volunteers and coaches from local high schools and colleges that belong to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes spent an entire week of sports camp with the kids from Countryside!! I cannot even express the joy that I felt watching these adults, teens, and college students pass along their love of sports and their love of Jesus! Each day the volunteers shared huddle times with all the kiddos and it brought me to tears to hear some of the words that came from their mouths. Sharing ideas about courage and strength and who we get our “power” from. And boy did we need some power to get through!! One day it was 109 degrees out there on the basketball court. But the volunteers did not waver!! This week truly was a blessing!

Vacation Bible Schools

This summer we have been a part of 2 Vacation Bible Schools so far! The first was at Pleasant Dale Baptist Church. Here, Jason and I were able to go and speak to the children about local missions in the Missions Rotation. Then, we were blessed with an offering of snacks, juices, and paper products that the church had collected that week. These items are things that we use throughout the year as we minister at The Connection. I was amazed at some of the questions that the children had about missions and about our daily lives in Countryside.

Next, we were invited to teach the youth class at Hyde Park Baptist Church. Hyde Park ran buses to our community each night and the children from Countryside went right with us to Bible School! We went through games, and snacks, and Bible story each night and, I can tell you that all of the children came home with their bellies and their hearts FULL! They learned many concepts about God and his POWER! To say that this WEEK was also POWERFUL would be an understatement. It was a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ loving, teaching and caring for others. We had so much fun and 3 of our Countryside FAMILIES came to parent’s night to see the kids sing and have some cake and ice cream afterward. We could not have been more excited to see this happen and we were even able to meet a neighbor that we had not met yet!!

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I mentioned before that we had a neighbor living with us but I was not able to go into detail about this special situation. Our neighbor, grew up in foster care and had recently become homeless. Now, I need to preface this by saying that this situation is not unique. We have personally met 3 of these young adults in our short 8 months at Countryside. In fact, many of these young people will not even admit that they are homeless (mostly because they have friends with couches, so, since they have a place to crash they do not consider themselves homeless). I began to research this and the statistics for these teens/ early 20 year olds are alarming to say the least. Let me share some statistics I read….Each year 25,000 kids age out of foster care in the United States. Within 18 months, 6,850 of those children will be homeless. They simply do not have the skills or the family support to succeed on their own. Jason and I have seen this over and over again this year and realized that God kept showing us this so that we can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!

INTRODUCING>>>>>> THE HOPE HOUSE!!!

As a family, about 2 months ago we began praying that we could start a place that would help some of these young adults get on their feet. Specifically, God had told us that we needed a place that was close to us so we could be involved in the day to day lives of the tenant there. He also gave us a name for the house as well. It will be called the Hope House because our hope and our help comes from the Lord and no person is ever so far from HIM that they do not have hope!! I felt like God was telling me that it would be the house behind us even though that house was currently rented out. WE prayed and prayed for the Hope House and just this Monday got a call from our landlord that the house behind us was empty and ours if we want it!!!! Isn’t God amazing!!!

The Hope House is just in the beginning stages but we are so in awe of the way God works that we have just been even more encouraged by being a witness to it! He provided our 1st tenant BEFORE he provided the house and he will provide for all of the needs of this house as well. Our vision is that this house would be ran and supported by the local churches and even businesses in our area! Please pray for direction and provision for the Hope House!!

NOW FOR OUR BIG NEWS!!!!

As of October 1st, we have new part time jobs!!!! Jason will be the Youth Minister and I will be the Children’s Minister of Hyde Park Baptist Church. God has been working THIS plan out for many, many, years now in our lives. We have served as youth leaders and AWANA commanders and everything in between in our own spare time for years, but we will now actually be on staff at a church in Lancaster! We see this as a great way to involve HIS people in the work that He is already doing in our community! This is also a way that God has provided for us to earn some of our support for the year as well!! After an exciting week of VBS with over 200 in attendance on the last night, we could not be more ready to see what the Lord has in the plans for both Hyde Park and for our family!!!We already know that HE is up to big things as the Holy Spirit is so evident there that it is just hard to describe!

So…..that was a ton of info but God has just been moving powerfully and we are holding onto our seats!! Please continue to pray for us over the next few months. Pray for our family as we transition AGAIN (this time to a new church family), pray for our ministries at Countryside as well. Pray for the lives that will be touched by The HOPE HOUSE and for direction and vision for this part of our ministry too! We love you all!!!

 

-Jason and Nancy

Slaves to Sin

As you all know, I began this blog to document our journey as a new missionary family on the field here in the United States. Interestingly, for us “on the field” is less than 2 miles from where we lived a nice little life in Suburbia 😳. Now, we live in a mobile home park that could not feel any further away from that life!! The past few weeks have been so busy and full of ministry, life, and changes for our family! ( I will tell you more about that in just a bit). First, I must share with you what the Lord has been teaching me in the past few weeks.
I have been studying and just living out some of the ideas that Paul shares with us in Romans Chapter 7 verses 18-25. Here is that text in the New Living Translation:
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[d] I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power[e] within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Boy has the Lord been showing me some beautiful things! You see, as much as I LOVE what God has called us to do here, I also MISS parts of our lives before Countryside and I am realizing that this is just part of my nature. I still feel a little sadness when I drive by our old road. I worry for my children here, and I struggle sometimes with fear and anxiety over that. I find myself up in the early morning/ late nighttime hours many times and this week I just prayed and asked God for peace at nighttime. We currently have a neighbor who recently became homeless sleeping on our office floor. This was definitely NOT our plan (we had made a rule that no one could sleep in our home) but it was God’s plan.
I just want you all to know that WHATEVER God has called you to do, there will be a struggle. Although there will be outside struggles, this struggle I am talking about is with yourself. Just like I am a slave to sin, so are you. We cannot do anything without the power of Jesus working through us!!
And that work that he will do, is so beautiful, so incredible and so much more than we could ever do by ourselves!!In the past few weeks, we have seen Jesus working so much that I have just been in awe of His great and mighty ways.
Check out Part 2 Tomorrow with some exciting news and what has been going on from day to day around here !!

Sweet Summertime!!

The past few weeks have just been so wonderful with God richly blessing the ministries in and around Countryside. I had to take a few moments this morning just to stop and praise the Lord for what he has been doing!

Our 1st mission team !!

I think that Marble City Baptist Church from Sylacauga Alabama will forever hold a special place in my heart after this week. Not only was this the first mission team that my family had the privilege of serving with, but they loved so completely and so selflessly that they renewed my heart and mind to be a better servant as well. They prayer-walked communities all over Lancaster in the hot sun each morning, took a small break for lunch, and hosted Bible club each afternoon at The Connection.The projects that this team was able to accomplish would have taken us months to complete! It was just wonderful for our neighbors to see so many people, all at once, with the light of Jesus shining brightly in the darkness.

            

        

 

Honduras Mission Team

Shanda Mackey has been such a great asset to the Countryside Ministry team. However, this week, we had to say “see ya later” while she leads a team to minister at Sandy Bay in Honduras. The really cool part of this was that Tony (our neighbor that I have blogged about many times ) was able to go on this mission trip as well. He has mowed lawns and did yard work for months to be able to go ! This is the country that his parents grew up in, so how cool is God that he would send Tony to tell others about Jesus in a place that is so important to him? I can only dream the future that God has planned for him much less the future that God has for all of the children around here if they will only seek out his plan!! The possibilities are so filled with hope!!!

    

Our neighbor

We have one neighbor, William, that has just really responded to Gods call on his life recently. He was able to serve and even live with the mission team while they were in Lancaster. As we were reflecting with William about the week, he was amazed that even the language of the team was something that reflected God’s love. He was thrilled to tell us how he did not hear one bad word all week and how the older teens on the team loved and took care and time with the younger kids. It made me really realize how, just the way we speak can point to our Creator!! Lastly, William told me that the mission team made him feel like he had a family with them. This is a young man who was placed into foster care at the age of 6. Oh that we would all make people feel like they were our family!!!! How different would they see the Body of Christ!! Lord, let this be said of me!!!!

(As a sidenote William is desperately seeking work so if you have construction or yard projects needing to be done contact Jason or myself )

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William in the middle

Hannah and Hunter

Lastly, we have officially welcomed Hannah and Hunter on board as our summer interns!! They served so wonderfully this week and Hannah even helped me lead devotion time one night!  We are having Bible study with them each Sunday night as well! It is wonderful to see 2 high-schoolers so devoted and seeking God’s will for their lives!!Would you pray for them this summer as they serve, and learn, and seek Him??

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As you can see, this summer has been busy but beautiful as well. I am so excited for God’s plans for our community and for our family too!

God is on the move!!

The title of this blog also just happens to be the name of my new favorite song! It is SO applicable to our lives in Countryside as well! We are privileged to actually visibly see God move almost daily in our lives and in the lives of our neighbors too! I want to share with you a couple of things that have happened over the last few weeks!

First, personally, at home,Jason and I have been more intentional about spending time TOGETHER in God’s Word. Before we both did a lot of studying ,but realized that together, as husband and wife,we were not doing that so much. So, we decided that one area that we could both use some “training,rebuking, and teaching in righteousness ” would be prayer. We desire to better our prayer lives because we know that God works powerfully through that. We also wanted to intentionally not use a bible study this time but let God reveal HIS words to us and he is doing that abundantly!

The fruits of this study time have been amazing! The most powerful thing revealed to us so far is what to do when we don’t know what to pray for. …..Romans 8:26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

AND!!

Romans 8:34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Amazing!!! The Holy Spirit and Jesus literally interceding for us when we don’t know what to pray!

Because we have been focused on prayer the past few weeks,it has really made me be more aware of how God is answering prayers both great and small!! First, if you have ever been to The Connection you already know that the kids LOVE to play soccer ! But, they have been playing on a rocky, dirt , field. Jason and I began praying on Monday, April 25th that God would provide to seed the field and that we would be able to  have a grass field for the kids to play on. Incredibly, by Friday of that same week we had ALL of the necessary materials donated (by someone who we personally did not ask even though we know him). Saturday, the field was tilled by two volunteers and a big tractor and today,the field has been seeded, covered with hay and watered daily. We are praying now for that seed to take root and GROW 🌱🌱🌱🌱!!

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And speaking of the Holy Spirit and Jesus interceding…. Shanda and I have wanted a bulletin board for The Connection to post events and sign ups for events. This week, my mother’s, neighbor’s, son ( say that 10 times  fast) comes walking over to my moms and says “Hey my mom wanted to know if you could use this big bulletin board she was going to throw it away!!!”Thank you LORD for knowing what we need even when we forget to ask !! Lastly we had one of our special friends bring us an entire veggie tray for homework helpers snacks one day!! Little did she know that the snacks were running a little low as this school year comes to an end.

Father,  You alone are powerful, and worthy of all our praise !!

As you can see God is always providing powerfully for our families here in Countryside! This was also the 1st month that our support actually covered our entire housing expense as well!! Praise to God!! In the next few days, I will be adding a page to this blog with many of the needs we have for our ministry here. God has pressed upon my heart that those needs may just be sitting around just like the bulletin board. It occurred to me that hundreds of people see this blog in a day so I will just update the list weekly and let GOD move!! Please also remember us in prayer as God continues to teach us new ways to take up our crosses and follow Him each day !

Love,

Nancy

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Tony helping Jason build our chicken coop !

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Elizabeth’s New Friend Tadeo

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Tea Party at Bethlehem Baptist Church (So Much Fun)

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One of our Fav. things to do at night!! BONFIRE!!

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Mothers Day Gift from one of my neighbors!!