May 4, 2017

Dear First Pres,

    I am delighted to share with you what God is doing in and through FPC in the ministry areas I oversee. You may recall I oversee (with Elders) the Community Growth Committee which includes the areas of Men's Ministry, Young Adults, College Group, Adult Ed Hour, Community Groups and Wednesday Nights@FPC. Let me share a couple of stories from these ministry areas.

   The first comes from my weekly Bible study with students on the Fresno State University and Fresno Pacific University campuses. I am always amazed and thankful to God for the ways he is growing the faith of these students. Waves are calmed, demons are cast out, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, those who are dead are being raised to life and we only made it to chapter 6 in our inductive study.

   In each section we ask the question, what are people like before they encounter Jesus and what are people like after encountering Jesus? Reading our Bible, students see that when people encounter Jesus their lives are changed, transformed and renewed. Sometimes we see someone who was dead and becomes alive or someone who is possessed by a demon now in their right mind. At other times people who are living in shame from their ailment are suddenly and publicly healed and identified as one of God's people.

   Yet beyond good study of the Biblical text we ask the question: What does this mean for our life here and now? I hear students articulate that they now have a greater understanding that Jesus can control the weather and because we know that, we can trust him in other areas as well. Other students have grown in their faith that Jesus can bring healing in their lives. Others now understand even more what it means to follow Jesus, just as the disciples were called and left everything to follow Jesus. 

   As we end each week in prayer, I hear the students intercede to God the Father on behalf of their peers. Every week I am blessed to receive the prayers of these college students as they pray for my ministry to the rest of the congregation. And only God can get the glory for answering their prayers for patience, for good test scores, school presentations, and reconciled relationships.

   Every month Lisa and I have gained a wonderful glimpse of the church as we have attended 5 of the 7 Community Groups. (Clovis West, I look forward to seeing you Sunday!)  At each we've had a wonderful time getting to know people in a much smaller context. These communities have brought me encouragement and delight in what God is doing in and throughout our city. Again it's the prayer time when I hear members pray and intercede for each other to our most high God that I am so thankful for the body of FPC.  In each of the Community Groups I have attended people talk about the connections that they've made with others at FPC they never knew lived in their neighborhood.

   Lastly, I'm excited about joining the eight other guys who will travel down to Mexico with me for the Men's Mexico build. Each of these men, made in the image of God, bought with a price with hearts that desire to love and serve are giving up a lot to serve the least of these. I know the trip will be long, and the border crossing may test our patience, the sun may beat down with intensity. But I will be glad to be sweating and swinging a hammer and laying cement with men who know the Lord, men who will encourage me, as I encourage them, to work hard and build whatever structure Amor has us build.

   Thank you again, friends, for welcoming Lisa and me here to Fresno. We are glad to call FPC our church home and look forward to many more stories of God's goodness experienced among us.

Peace & Joy,
Chris

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