Thought from Leo Yates, Jr
The Power of God's Love
God's love changes lives. Period.
On a recent men's weekend, I had the opportunity to serve as a spiritual director for a Men's Credo weekend. In a sense, the Credo weekend is a spiritual renewal retreat that takes place from Thursday evening to Sunday late afternoon. More often than not, many of the people who attend Credo are in some type of recovery from addiction; moreover, all of us are in recovery from life's brokenness. All of us have this in common. So much grace is poured out in the meetings and preparations before the weekend and when the weekend retreat arrives, it looks like God just pours grace upon grace.
The candidates who arrive Thursday are typically unsure of what to expect, many having reservations for even attending. However, from the onset of the weekend, each and every candidate is loved and cared for in ways they’re not used to (e.g. there's a lot of hugging going on). Having been a candidate for the 45th men's weekend, I was left wanting more, so I teamed for Credo 46. It's no wonder why many of the men who have been candidates want to return and be on team. Love is all around and is experienced in so many ways: in the small groups, new friendships that are made, experiencing community (bonding with others), worshipping together, and all the fun we have. Seeing the ice around some of the candidate's hearts melt away so love can be better experienced leaves me in awe at the wonders God does for us. Opening up and being vulnerable, taking this risk, is huge but worth it. It enables the candidates to better see God's presence. Plus, love heals us in so many ways and the brokenness so many of the candidates come in with begins to mend throughout the weekend. The love and grace experienced over the retreat helps all of us to see things in a whole new light — through our relationship with Christ. Being loved, to feel accepted, knowing you belong, and experiencing forgiveness, these (and more) help candidates to know who Christ is.
Men, one or two at a time, wish to dedicate or rededicate their lives to Christ. In fact, it’s powerful to see them remove the biggest barrier to their relationship with God — themselves. Once this happens and the men allow themselves to be vulnerable, their eyes are opened to God’s love in a whole new way, often in ways they haven’t experienced before.
The experience is reminiscent of Acts 2:46-47: "They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw" (MSG). I said it once and I'll say it again and again: God’s love changes lives. Period.
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Report from Paul Aseka
Remembering the work of my hand before the end of 2014: it is time to say good bye 2014, but it is hard to forget my work, especially December. It was a busy month as everybody was preparing for Christmas. It was also my first time to visit the Dallas Deaf Action Center (DAC) since I went to school fall semester. I was also with the Lovers Lane Academy for the Deaf (LLAD) students to celebrate before Christmas. The very good thing was that students already created their own gifts for DAC residents. We had a drama about the birth of Jesus Christ as a part of our celebration for residents, but we also had activities to involve them. My supervisor created a Christmas story by using charades. We used the cards with characters, pictures, places or thing and asked some DAC volunteers to act with LLAD students. After the devotion, students distributed their gifts to the residents.
I went to Chipley, Florida for Christmas with my family for four days. The ten commandments were in my mind especially "obey your parents" when I saw that my father-in-law was working on the farm alone. I felt that it was not right for me to watch him and do nothing. I walked towards him and told him to stop driving a tractor because I wanted to help him as a part of obeying my parents. I took a tractor and ploughed that farm myself. He applauded because he was proud of me and I was proud of him. It is good for Christians to obey parents no matter what.
Early January 2015, I went to DAC for the devotional before school started. I used the Bible verse Romans 3:9-19 which was talking about the guilt of all people. I first explained to DAC residents that Paul wrote the letter to the Romans telling them that God called him to be an apostle and that he was chosen to tell God's Good News to all people. Then I read the scriptures and interpreted to them.
I used the same verses in our fellowship class and at the Dallas-Indian Methodist Church when my supervisor was out of the country. My project at International Rescue Committee (IRC) ended last January 24th. I met my students at DAC because they desired to learn more ASL and to be independent.
In my school (University of Texas at Arlington), I learned in English about how to construct an argument. This reminded me that in church and our deaf fellowship we sometimes have arguments over something which they like or dislike. In the school's essay we were required to use appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos. These were useful for me to identify emotions and values of people in church and our deaf ministry. Also I learned more about financial management which causes some Americans to overspend. It was very interesting because I hoped to advice our deaf young adults and to help our ministry to reduce spending. I asked myself that is our church a part of overspending? The answer was yes because our churches sometimes donated to several people within US and other countries and end up with a deficit. How can I be of help our deaf ministry? I can advise by using what I learned especially SMART (Specific and Measurable, Attainable and Realistic, and Time bound). The goals for our deaf ministry should be smart. I would like to advise our deaf young adults on how to manage their financials to avoid overspend.
I learned that socializing with deaf old residents at DAC and using skills from school helped me to stay positive.
Paul Aseka is interning at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas, thanks in part to a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries. Paul is from Kenya and became deaf at age 7. He has studied at National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York and is sensing a call to ministry with the Deaf. At the March 2013 meeting of the UM-DHM, the committee set aside funds to support local churches that desire to develop Deaf Christian leaders. In the months ahead. Paul will be sharing his experience as an intern. This is his most recent report (previous reports can be found here).