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#GivingTuesday coming up November 28, 2017

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Have you seen this video recently? It has been making its way around Facebook and other Social Media platforms. It’s not a new video (it came out December 2016). It’s also not a new concept: being grateful for EVERYTHING we have! If you haven’t seen it, we’ll give you a minute to watch it now.

All done? Wow, that was good, eh?

Each fall, with the celebration of Thanksgiving weekend in October and through to Remembrance Day in November, we are given ample opportunity to stop and take stock of what we have. From the sun rising and setting each day to indoor plumbing to hot coffee and a mug to drink it in. Wow, we are #blessed, right?

Something I’ve tried to drill into my kids’ heads and hearts (and truth be told, my OWN head and heart!) is to have “An Attitude of Gratitude”. Of course that is consistently met with groans and eye rolls from my two boys, but if we’re serious for a moment and really think about this, isn’t this just a great way to go through each day of our life?! There will always be the “big” things in life that some of us will never have or be able to afford, but don’t we have a TON of little things that are just as important (and likely a lot more necessary) to be grateful for??

I think I’ll bookmark this video and go back to it whenever I need a little ‘gratitude boost’, or a dose of Vitamin G, as some people call it! I challenge you to do the same.

So what does this have to do with #GivingTuesday? (Or perhaps you’re asking what IS #GivingTuesday???) “Following Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and the widely-recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year” (taken from www.givingtuesday.org). This movement marries the power of social media with the innate generosity of people around the world in order to impact local communities. Organizations and individuals have raised over a million dollars in almost 100 countries since its inception. And what an incredible contrast this is each year, coming out of a weekend of gluttony, over-indulging AND over-spending.

 

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.

– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Here at DMC, our focus is to inspire, empower and equip Deacons in order that they may animate their congregations. One of our focus areas is to help churches “To Live Stewardly”. Over the next year, DMC will be increasing our capacity to serve you and your diaconates by gathering appropriate and relevant resources in the area of stewardship. Remember to keep coming back to see what’s been added!

Our prayer is that God will continue to bless each one of you as you and your churches choose an “attitude of gratitude”, able to see and appreciate ALL of His good gifts. And out of this gratitude, that God may increase your generosity.

And if you feel led to participate in the #GivingTuesday Campaign this year by giving an extra donation to a ministry you already support, or by organizing a service project in your community, or you name it!, we know that “you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.” (2 Cor. 9:9 NLT)

Church Holds First “Serve Saturday”

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Members of Brighton Fellowship CRC (BFCRC) are ready to tackle some yardwork for a local senior at their first “Serve Saturday” event.

This past weekend, a total of 60 participants came out bright and early on Saturday morning for Brighton Fellowship CRC’s (BFCRC) first-ever “Serve Saturday”. Members of all ages were encouraged by the Diaconate of BFCRC to come and help out some local seniors, both inside and outside their congregation, with their fall clean-up. The morning began at 8am with a devotion and prayer followed by participants enjoying a delicious breakfast. Groups and worksites had already been formed prior to the morning and by 8:40am, everyone was off and ready to get to work.

Roxanne Ewing, Chair of Deacons at BFCRC, said the idea to hold a “Serve Saturday” was primarily inspired by BFCRC being a host church for a SERVE Youth Mission Trip. This is a program run by Youth Unlimited who works with local churches to help them share the love of Christ with those in their own backyards. The week-long mission trip welcomes teens and youth leaders from across North America. Worksites are arranged for each day, lending assistance to various community agencies and individuals. The feedback from those who received assistance from these SERVE groups over the past 3 years in Brighton was tremendous. After the week was over, many would ask the church, “Hey, where did all those wonderful teenagers go to?”

This got the Deacons at BFCRC thinking. How could they take the concept of a SERVE week and make it a part of their own church’s regular rhythm? They understood that this would not only be a practical way to help people inside and outside their church walls, but also build on the relationships that began with the SERVE groups. It also fit well with their mission to “show love, kindness and mercy to all members of BFCRC and surrounding community.”

The Mission Statement of the Diaconate of BFCRC

One of the key reasons the Deacons decided to focus their efforts on seniors was because of a Community Opportunity Scan that the church completed a few years ago when they were doing some re-Visioning as a church. One of the discoveries made was the large amount of seniors living in the Brighton area.

Afterwards, Roxanne said they “had an amazing day!!! The feedback was very positive…. Those we served… were blessed and overwhelmed with gratitude; some even brought to tears…. It was [also] quite a buzz the next morning in church!!! Everyone is looking forward to doing this again and I think this will be contagious!!”

Moving forward, it is the hope of the diaconate to hold another Serve Saturday in the Spring. It is through these small but intentional steps that as a diaconate and church, they hope to “show the love of Jesus to everyone… with open eyes and a prayerful heart.”

So what about YOUR church?

Has your diaconate found ways to encourage intergenerational serving, inside or outside your church? What doors has God been opening up for you as a church? Share your story with us!

Need inspiration? Not sure where to start? Contact the DMC Office to speak to one of our staff members and we’d love to chat with you!

A Deacon’s Experience

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Rene (back centre) with fellow deacon Amanda Blaauwendraat (front left) and their team for Coldest Night of the Year, in support of the Truro Homeless Outreach Society

As part of our mission to inspire deacons in the work that they do, Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) works to share various deacons’ experiences. Our hope is that these stories from across the country will help deacons learn from each other and feel connected to a broader group beyond their own church.

This month we are highlighting an interview we did with Mrs. Rene Wall from John Calvin CRC in Truro, Nova Scotia.

MEET MRS. RENE WALL

Rene works as a Web Application Developer for the Nova Scotia Government. Rene and her husband Jamie were blessed to celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary this past summer. She is one of those rare people who love committee work and is happiest when she is organizing/coordinating something. Her interests include singing, reading, crafting and playing with her kitties.

What did you enjoy about serving as a deacon?
I am an organizer at heart, so I enjoyed working on projects with the other deacons; whether it was cooking dinners for seniors at Christmas, preparing the annual Community Dinner for the needy in our town, setting up the apartment for our interim pastor, or organizing the Maritime Day of Encouragement.

What was one of the most positive experiences you had while serving as a deacon over the past few years?
I think perhaps it was leading a team in the Out of the Cold Fundraiser the last few years. It met a few of the goals that I tried to achieve: it was inter-generational (youth and adult participants), involved our church in the community, was something that people new to church could easily participate in and, of course, it was for an excellent diaconal cause – Truro Homeless Outreach Society.

What has been a challenge your diaconate faced over the past few years? How did you navigate this challenge?
We really struggled with how to answer cold calls (people we don’t know). The existing practice was to give out grocery cards, but at the start of my term it became really clear that people were taking advantage of that practice: hitting up all the churches in the area, selling the grocery cards for money, people not being who they claimed they were, etc. We tried a number of different things, and in end we decided to ask for ID, and then offer them a bag of groceries. In the bag is a list of all the local resources for help (eg. local Food Bank, Salvation Army) and free lunches and dinners in the community. When we do have extra money in the diaconate we look for ways we can help existing local organizations like the local Food Bank or women’s shelter.

“Get involved with a community organization – it extends how far you can help and it introduces the community to your church.”

What words of advice or encouragement would you offer to future deacons?
Don’t just define the role of a deacon as what you might have seen/perceived growing up in the church. It’s changing and covers a lot more than “counting money and giving out grocery cards”. Then find something in the role of deacon that resonates with you and do the best you can! If you can, get involved with a community organization – it extends how far you can help and it introduces the community to your church.

What has your interaction or experience with Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) been like? 
Hmm – this could have been my “positive experience” too. I worked very closely with DMC’s Maritime Diaconal Ministry Developer (DMD) to organize the Maritime Day of Encouragement (MDOE) in 2015 and again this year. As I mentioned in the previous question, it was a way for me to use my “organizing abilities” in the role of deacon. Through DMC’s support of the MDOE over the years, we’ve been able to bring a lot of excellent speakers to the Maritimes to encourage and support our leaders.

What do you think other diaconates should know about DMC and its resources?
DMC has a lot of resources for you to tap into – talk to your DMD or visit their website. You don’t have to go it alone! I finished my role as deacon this spring and am currently mentoring two new deacons. I found a lot of great training material/devotions on the DMC website for them to use. Thank you!

Are you a deacon? Do you have an experience you’d like to share with us? Then we want to hear from YOU! Email eknight@crcna.org today

2017 OM Summer Blog

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Camp Shout 2017 is over… but its mission continues!

The final blog post by Aydan Schat, Camp Leader at OM 2017 Partner Camp Shout

Camp SHOUT* 2017 is complete. It was, by my definition, incredibly successful. Relationships blossomed between campers, staff, and volunteers. We were able to share God’s love with so many well-deserving children, and I think that is about as beautiful as anything gets. The week after camp ended we had an event at the church to thank some of our volunteers for their work at Camp SHOUT. A couple campers saw us as we were hanging out and next thing we knew, there were 7 or 8 former campers arriving at the church to see us all again. The relationships don’t end after camp is finished. They continue for weeks, months and years. Some of the campers will be attending again next year. Former campers will come back as Leaders in Training. Staff will return to work. Camp SHOUT 2017 is complete, but its mission continues with the people who are involved.

Thanks so much to Operation Manna for their support and to everyone else who has supported Camp SHOUT through their time, resources and prayers. We look forward to more good years in the future!

~Aydan Schat~

*To watch highlights from this year’s camp, click HERE.

*Camp SHOUT (See Him Open Up Truth) is a high-energy, low-cost day camp that gives local kids between grades 1-6 a fun, safe place to play and learn about Jesus. It runs for four weeks at Jubilee Fellowship Church in St. Catharines, ON. Jubilee Church views Camp SHOUT as a way for their church community to build bridges with their local community by providing safe, affordable camp for neighbourhood kids. A typical day at camp involves games, crafts, songs, chapels, smiles, and fun. Because Camp SHOUT is low-cost, it is designed to give kids who might not otherwise go to camp a chance to develop the character, teamwork and friendships that a camp experience generates. 

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Here is Aydan’s first blog post from the beginning of Camp Shout!

My name is Aydan Schat. I’m the Head Counsellor at Camp SHOUT, an outreach ministry in the form of a day camp, run by Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church. My job is to plan activities and recruit campers for 4 weeks of camp, ensuring that it’s a fun and safe place for the campers we’re entrusted with.

I first worked for Camp SHOUT 4 years ago. I worked as a counselor, helping to lead the activities each day. I absolutely loved it. I got to play with kids and lead activities and I got paid for it. It was the dream for 16-year-old me. So I came back all of the following years.

In those years, Camp SHOUT has undergone some huge changes. It has grown in attendance, in the amount of planning required, and has added new job positions. In those same years, I have also undergone some huge changes. I’ve gone to university. I’ve become more aware of the realities of the world. As a result, Camp SHOUT is no longer quite the same “play with kids and get paid” experience for me. It is something much greater. Camp SHOUT is a chance for me to impact the lives of children with all kinds of different stories, to get to know them and to care for them. There is so much good that can come out of it. And I still do get to play with them. It’s just way more than that.

I’m excited for this year at Camp SHOUT. I’m excited to see the impact that we can have on campers’ lives, as well as the impact they have on ours.

~ Aydan Schat is working this summer at Camp SHOUT*, a 2017 OM Partner and Grant recipient.

Virtual Conference Held in Port Alberni, BC

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On September 12, 2017, Port Alberni hosted a virtual “meet the denomination” meeting facilitated by Pastor Curtis Korver, Rich Braaksma and Jessica Boy from Resonate Global Mission. Attending live and on-screen were people from many different ministries in the CRC – Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC), Resonate, Faith Formation, Aboriginal Ministries, BCLDN (Leadership Development Network) and the National Director of Canadian Ministries, Darren Roorda. More than 20 people from the church came out for this event – impressive for a community of about 100 adults! There was a palpable sense that the denomination sees the local church, cares about the local church and is present and ready to help and serve.

The meeting was structured to:

  1. Live into the denominational posture of wanting to serve and help the local church; and
  2. Specifically address three areas that Alberni Valley CRC was connecting with – discipleship, leadership development and collaboration (community engagement)

Rachel Vroege, the Western Canada Regional Ministry Developer for DMC, partnered with Karen Wilk from Resonate and Shannon Perez from Aboriginal Ministries to lead the break-out session Collaboration. In this break-out, the leaders helped those present to see deacons as leaders providing opportunities for congregations to be bridges of reconciliation in their neighbourhoods through community partnerships. Karen Wilk talked about the call to love our neighbours by welcoming them into our homes and Shannon Perez talked about the ministry of reconciliation with our Aboriginal neighbours and how to use the Declaration of Indigenous Rights as a framework.

After the break-outs, everyone gathered together to come up with 6 or more directions to pursue for follow-up. All participants committed to taking time in the coming month to sit in a coffee shop on a busy corner or walk through their neighbourhood with one prayer on their hearts: “What, Lord, do you want me to notice about this city?”

This virtual conference was the first of its kind in a local CRC congregation in Canada. It was one way to show all of the resources available to a church from the denominational agencies as well as act as a catalyst to open up the eyes and hearts to what God would have the church do to be as a presence in their city.

Interested in doing this in YOUR church or Classis? Email dmc@crcna.org today to find our more!

DOE Edmonton 2017

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Register now for the Day of Encouragement (DOE) in Edmonton, Alberta. The event is happening on Saturday, November 4, 2017.

The ​DOE ​provides ​an ​opportunity ​for ​encouragement, ​inspiration, ​education ​and ​skill ​development ​for ​ministry ​leaders ​and ​people ​of ​the ​CRC ​church. ​

The Edmonton DOE is excited ​to ​bring ​together ​people ​from ​Classis ​Alberta ​North ​so ​we ​can network ​and ​join ​God ​in ​transforming ​our ​communities!

For more details check out the DOE 2017 Brochure

To register visit the DOE Registration Page here. 

NOTE: The AGM will also be held at the Edmonton DOE. All ordained deacons are able to attend the AGM. Look for materials being sent to your local diaconate in the next couple of weeks.


Or join deacons out east at the Maritimes Day of Encouragement, happening the same weekend in Truro, Nova Scotia. Find more information here or visit johncalvincrc.ca/MDOE/.  Registration ends on October 29th, 2017. Cost is $10-$25 (early bird registration ends Oct 14, 2017).

2017 Ministry Networking Day

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Calvin Williams of MY House in British Columbia, was one of the participants, of MND 2017 and offered some encouraging feedback after the days’ workshops:

 “I was very impressed with the quality of teaching and interaction that was presented at the Networking Day. I was impressed at the high regard that the CRC and ministries represented had for justice work and how it is integral in God’s mission. I felt encouraged that there is a large representation of believers from a mainline church that are as passionate about God’s justice for the “least of these” as I am.

The presenters offered clear scriptural support for justice work and brought our attention to passages of the Bible that traditionally have not been associated with justice work. We were lead through really appropriating Scripture to our calling and daily work. This was affirming.

I learned a lot about Appreciative Inquiry and how it can be used to connect with our participants and address problematic issues. I used it in the week I returned back to work with great results.

During the Networking Day, I also made some connections with other ministries who are involved in areas that I want our ministry to expand into. We look forward to connecting with the other ministries further as we continue to develop.

Thank you for the opportunity to attend the Networking Day!”

Ministry Networking Day 2017  was held on May 26th, 2017.  For more information about Ministry Networking Day learning opportunities visit the DMC website. 

A DMD Experience

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Featuring an interview with DMDs:
Doug Vandekamp and Dorothy Heidbuurt 

Diaconal Ministry Developers (DMDs) are encouragers and coaches for deacons.  They are experienced in diaconal work and are available to help deacons understand their role and work out their calling in the church and its community.  Recently Tammy Heidbuurt connected with two outgoing DMDs about their experiences connecting with CRCs in Classis Hamilton and Classis Chatham. 

What did you enjoy most about being a DMD?

Dorothy (DH):  definitely the friendships I have been able to make along the way!  Friendships that are based on the common desire to serve God by serving those in church and community

Doug (DV):   What I enjoyed most, was I think, having a front-row seat to the Lord’s work through dedicated leaders.  It’s such a blessing to see people eager to make a difference in churches and communities; an eagerness that fans into flame, passion for ministry and serving deacons.

What have you learned in the role about deacon’s work?

DH:  every Christian is called to deacon-work.  To love your neighbours, offer compassion, promote justice, advocate for the less fortunate, to be a good steward, and to live life in a way that others see the breathing, living presence of Christ in you.

DV:  this ministry is definitely never “one-size-fits-all”.  Each diaconate strives to make sure its ministry is meaningful to its own church and community.

Can you share a story or meaningful experience you had with a diaconate while being a DMD?

DH:  I visited a diaconate once where the conversation focused on the many opportunities that are often presented when responding to specific needs of the people in their community.  Not long after that visit, one of the deacons from that diaconate called me and asked what kind of questions the should be asking a community member who was in financial need (they were scheduled to meet that individual later that same day).  I ended up joining them at that meeting at a coffee shop.  We had a great visit and I was so encouraged by the desire of that deacon to meet the needs and to build relationships in an authentic, caring, respectful manner with the people in their own community.

DV:  I remember when a deacon-chair asked for help with some training for his diaconate (plus others in the same area).  During the initial meeting, we enjoyed a deep and meaningful time of brainstorming ideas and coming up with concrete plans.  Through the meeting, the emails afterward and the training-gathering that eventually took place, it was amazing to see the Lord weaving the details together.  We were deeply blessed by an informing and uplifting evening of encouragement and true equipping.

What would you like churches to know about DMDs and their work?

DH:  I would love for churches to become more aware of the resources that they have readily available to them through their very own Classis DMD and through the DMC organization.  DMDs are there to assist them and to encourage them in their acts of service in the local church and community ministry.  They are an effective avenue to help share the amazing testimonies and acts of services that are happening across Canada, that when shared, spur on others to also act and serve.

DV:  Simply put… DMDs love to bless churches.  They have access to a wide variety of resources and are ready, willing and able to adapt those resources to any church’s specific needs.  I hope the churches take the time to appreciate the deacons’ role in equipping all members for works of service. Sometimes in the Reformed tradition, we feel embarrassed about not being able to evangelize/share the gospel with words. While there certainly is a learning curve for us worth climbing in the area of (spoken) evangelism, let’s remember that Christian deeds speak in powerful ways that the watching world is sure to notice…and so, let’s join the momentum the Holy Spirit has been generating in and through deacons and people in their networks (like DMDs)!

DMC gives a big thank-you to both Dorothy Heidbuurt and Doug VandeKamp for their wonderful work as DMDs, and their ongoing ministry in the CRC.  Many blessings to you both Dorothy and Doug!

Doug has accepted a call as a Pastor, from First CRC Brandon (in Classis Lake Superior).  Dorothy will be focusing on her full-time work as a support worker. 

             

  Dorothy Heidbuurt              Doug VandeKamp

 

 

Did You Mean These Neighbours, Jesus?

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By Trixie Ling

In the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke, a lawyer put Jesus to the test by asking a bold question – “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The lawyer already knew the answer written in the Law, which is love God and love your neighbour. Not fully satisfied with the answer, he followed up with an honest question, “And who is my neighbour?”  I have been thinking about this simple yet challenging question as I encounter others in my daily life, work, church and neighbourhood. I am confronted with the truth of Jesus’ teaching in the parable about how to be a good neighbour who shows love, compassion, and mercy to others.

“I didn’t always love my neighbour the drunken gardener, or my neighbour the rich gentrifier, or my unknown neighbour in the yellow house.”

In her book City of God, Sara Miles writes about her diverse neighbourhood in the Mission District of San Francisco and offers some deep reflections about the kind of neighbour she is: “Like the lawyer who challenges Jesus, I often wished to weasel out of responsibility, hoping to calibrate who, precisely, was my neighbour; how much, exactly, I was required to love which people. I didn’t always love my neighbour the drunken gardener, or my neighbour the rich gentrifier, or my unknown neighbour in the yellow house. And I really dreaded the parable’s implication that I could be saved by what they had to give.”

I admire Miles’ courage in confessing how we often struggle to respond to God’s call to love our neighbours as ourselves. We might not know our neighbours or even like our neighbours, but we need to hear God’s call and allow it to guide our faith and actions to love our neighbours on the streets, in schools, at work, in churches, and in our own neighbourhoodsEvery Wednesday night at my church, I work with volunteers to organize a community dinner where we cook, eat, and share food and stories with our neighbours, friends, families, and strangers. It is a vibrant scene of kids running around the room, someone playing the piano, volunteers chopping vegetables and preparing the meal, and people having coffee and conversations in multiple languages as they wait for dinner. There are singles, couples, and families from all walks of life connecting over food around a table. The faces of our neighbours include many refugees and asylum seekers, who live next door at the Welcome Centre, a transitional housing and support centre serving refugees and immigrants.

“Recently, I noticed a new person who started coming to our weekly community dinner.”

Recently, I noticed a new person who started coming to our weekly community dinner. At first she came by herself, then she brought a friend. I welcomed her to our dinner and she shared her story with me – she emigrated from Costa Rica and has lived in our neighbourhood for almost 10 years and didn’t really know her neighbours. She wanted to know who her neighbours are, so she came to our community dinner in hopes of meeting some of her neighbours, including people in our church. I was encouraged by her earnest desire and openness to reach out and build relationships with her neighbours. I am reminded of the gift of being rooted in this diverse multicultural neighbourhood where I live and work, and the continuous call to show hospitality to new and old neighbours.

We all want to know and be known, but sometimes our fears and vulnerability get in the way of reaching out to neighbours, welcoming the stranger, and building real relationships with people who love and care for us. In a society where many people experience isolation and loneliness, we yearn for a sense of belonging and acceptance. As an immigrant myself, I understand and empathize with newcomers to Canada who struggle to settle, integrate, and be part of their neighbourhoods.

What is your vision of neighbourliness? My vision is one of neighbours taking care of neighbours. The stakes are high because we have to be vulnerable, build trust, learn to give, and be humbled to ask for help and receive from others. My hope is to take up God’s command to love my neighbours as my vocation.  The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which means “to call.” I am called to be present with people, pay attention to needs in the community, celebrate joys and remember sorrows together, and show love instead of fear, apathy, or judgment toward my neighbours.

“My hope is to take up God’s command to love my neighbours as my vocation.”

On an individual level, we can make serious efforts to meet our neighbours and get to know them through shared meals, neighbourhood activities, community gardens, and events in public spaces. On a collective level, we can build welcoming, diverse and inclusive neighbourhoods, and advocate for just policies for marginalized neighbours who experience poverty, homelessness, and discrimination in our communities.

We can remind each other of the parable of the Good Samaritan and aspire to live into the call to love our neighbours. Let us hear and hold on to God’s faithful words: “Love your neighbour as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

*Originally featured on: Do Justice Blog*

Facing the Giant …

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“Looking at the bigger picture of poverty in our community can be overwhelming and often paralyzes people.  The fight feels like David standing in front of Goliath, but knowing that the bigger battle of poverty is in God’s hands.  The first thing we need to do is hand it over to our Lord … and recognize that benevolence has to be about partnership and relationship; not about handouts.” ~ Anja Attema ~

Anja Attema, the workshop trainer for DMDs and Deacons, focuses on this during the training, addressing benevolence.

Deacons have the opportunity to provide support and help point people in the right direction, but it all begins with establishing relationships.  As Anja states, “you don’t know what you don’t know”.  When she trains deacons, Anja encourages them to not only ask helpful questions that can reveal some of the root causes of financial burdens but to stress the importance of relationships through their benevolent work.

In order to be successful, Deacons need tools to help address walking alongside their neighbors in benevolence.  DMC, along with conducting these workshops, has developed “Guidelines for Benevolence”.  These guidelines help deacons to create tools for helping, developing plans of action and identifying partners in their community that can provide assistance.

Head over to diaconalministries.com/resources to access these Guidelines and other various tools as well as to access more information/to request information on future Financial Benevolence workshops in your area.