Monday, September 17, was a thrilling evening at the ACU Summit—our annual Celebration Dinner describing God’s work in Mission Alive. We were blessed with a full house, just over 120 participants who heard stories of church planting, church renewal, and conversion.
Sergio Rizo spoke about family ministry in neighborhood contexts while beginning Reunion Christian Community in downtown Nashville. For example, sometimes Sergio, his wife Jackie and their four children plan “sneak attacks” to bless others. On those nights, they express God’s nature by secretly helping people. One evening during Easter, they hid Easter eggs in three different yards. Then they taped a sign to each front door that read, “You’ve been egged! The Rizo kids have hidden 12 eggs in your yard. Enjoy the hunt, but don’t be discouraged when you find the empty egg. It is a simple reminder of Jesus’ empty tomb.” They then rang the doorbell and dashed to the van. Afterward, they were blessed with calls and texts from each family that had been egged. These simple ministries bless both their family and the Reunion Church.
My favorite part was seeing Margaret Akachuk’s video testimony describing her journey to become part of the Gentle Road Church of Christ in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I was particularly moved by Margaret’s words: “God saved me from a life of disaster, and I’m willing to give back to the people any way that I can. And I’m very proud to be a member of Gentle Road.” Watch Margaret’s testimony in this video.
Randy Couchman, Preaching Minister for the Boerne Church of Christ, spoke of Mission Alive’s role in his church’s ongoing renewal. He spoke of intentional disciple-making processes to spiritually form his church’s leaders and how personal connections with people in neighborhoods are developing. His friend David—part of a Starbucks group of searchers—invited Randy to go fishing with him early one morning and after deep soul-searching announced that he was ready to give his allegiance to Christ. The lake where they fished became a baptistery! Homer Hillis of Highland Church in Abilene, reflected on Randy’s words, saying, “I could see that he is not just a mouth in a pulpit, but one who walks with people.”
Tod Vogt, Director of Equipping in Mission Alive, told stories of churches that have been planted over the last seven years. It was apparent that a nation-wide movement of church planting and renewal is developing.
Finally, Gailyn and Becky Van Rheenen told the story of Leslie Fry. Leslie is not only a supporter of Mission Alive but also a great encourager. Becky told of her anticipation of letters from home when they lived in Africa. In this same way Gailyn and Becky anticipate opening the letters from Leslie. He invariably includes a word of encouragement indicating that he prays for and follows what God is doing through us. His spirit of encouragement also takes him to Denver to spend time with the church planters and Christians of the Aspen community whom he also supports. We were honored to present Mission Alive’s annual Mustard Seed Award to Leslie Fry, our Encourager!
We give thanks for the stories of God’s work and for all who gathered to hear them.
Gailyn Van Rheenen