Cultivate relationships

Getting “Out of the Box” to Reach the Deaf

Deaf pastor and church planter John Wyble and his wife, Denise, serve the Deaf community through 2 Deaf congregations in Virginia. They use American Sign Language to communicate God’s message of redemption.

What are some of the challenges you face in reaching the Deaf and how do you deal with those?

John: We have to overcome the walls built up through worldly lifestyles. We have found through years of ministry that building relationships is crucial. By living a righteous and compassionate example, we are ready to share the gospel when the right time comes. One example is when deaf ladies at our church host a women’s retreat on the beach. They will pay the way for unsaved friends. They were thrilled when the unsaved woman Denise sponsored became a believer.

What are some of the ways your churches serve the community?

Too Much Information!

You’re being real. You’re applying the message of James 5:16 and confessing sins to each other and praying for healing. Intimacy is vital to growth in a relationship. So, when does this become a problem? Here are a few things to consider before letting it all hang out:

*Use discretion. Not everything should be shared with everyone. Listen carefully before you speak. Pray for guidance on when to be quiet. Remember something you say could impact others negatively. Don’t inadvertently cause others to stumble.

*Know your audience. Proverbs 18:24 states, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin…” (NIV). If someone you know struggles with keeping confidences, don’t entrust them with sensitive information. Be friendly, but think before you speak.

*Seek out Godly advisors. Rather than going to those who will say what you want to hear, consider asking God for friends willing to sharpen you.

Howdy, Neighbor!

Thermometer shows warmer temperatures. How’s the thermostat on your hospitality? Would your neighbors say you are prone to hibernate or do they see you now and then? To share Christ with others, we have to get out there! How can we form relationships with our neighbors to better witness to them? Here are a few ideas:

*Emerge from the den. Do a little something in the yard. Take more walks. Lollygag, doddle, and take your time. Smile, wave, strike up a conversation asking questions with more than one-word answers. Ask how someone is doing and wait for the response. Be purposeful about interacting, not just accomplishing your task.

*Offer help. Using the information you’ve learned from conversation, make a plan to take action. Rake the leaves for an elderly neighbor, run errands for someone recuperating from illness, welcome a newcomer with a treat. . . are all good ideas to share love in tangible ways.

Connecting Stories

Stories are powerful. They connect us in deep ways. In our relationships, we may agree or disagree on many things but our shared experiences often are the glue that keeps us together. And in the middle of our very real stories, God is working. He is working in amazing ways. What God is doing in and through us is more than we can imagine, more than we realize even now. Many stories are still unfolding. What about you? What’s your story? How might God be working in and through you, beyond what you can see?

I recently talked with a new friend who is Vietnamese. God has worked in her life to bring her to a new place of service. She has been asked to be a leader in a fellowship of Vietnamese churches. She is leading women to be on mission for God. She never dreamed she would be doing what she is doing now. God guided her one step at a time. At each point, He gave her just what she needed, just at the right time.

Meeting Challenges and Opportunities in Ukraine

Linda Gray faces daily challenges as she serves as a single missionary in Kharkov, Ukraine. Whether dealing with vehicle maintenance problems, overcoming preconceived notions about Baptists as a cult, or working with leadership in the churches, Gray knows where to seek help, where to give a strong witness, and where to cooperate for the proclaiming of the gospel message.

Almost 98% of Ukrainians would identify themselves as Christian because they were baptized into the Orthodox church as infants. But only a small percentage of Ukrainians are born-again followers of Jesus. Though Gray has been a missionary for 18 years, she has spent 13 years in Kharkov. In previous years, she worked with church women’s groups, small-group Bible studies, and English as a second language, but now much of her focus is helping to minister to more than 200,000 Ukrainians in her region who have been displaced by war.

Listening: A Relationship Builder

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is an old quote and it holds the key to building deep and lasting relationships. One of the ways we genuinely show we care is by listening.

Offering Biblical hospitality in my home and office has generated spontaneous moments to listen and to show I care. Over a cup of hot tea served with scones or coffee served with muffins, what has started out as a generalized conversation turns into my guest sharing their most deepest needs. Once a person knows you can be trusted and that you truly care; pretenses crumble and the foundation is laid for an authentic relationship.

Everyone needs someone to simply listen. It isn’t that you hold the answers or can solve the problems, but there is something therapeutic about being able to voice our ‘whatever’ to someone who will accept us as we are with a listening ear and heart. Who in your life that needs Biblical hospitality and a listening ear is God placing on your heart?

 

Get Plugged In

Arriving in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, NAMB church planter Jay Parks knew building relationships was vital to building New Life Church. When his son got involved in soccer, Jay attended practices and games, looking to “plug in where families already were,” he says. He soon began coaching, and after a year-and-a-half, he has met many families through it.

Jay and his wife April also committed to engage two families a week by inviting them to dinner, hosting over 100 families so far.

“This shifts a focus from just inviting them to church to simply trying to get to know them,” he affirms.

The soccer field and the Parks’ dinner table have brought many into the fledgling congregation. “Building relationships is so important when trying to reach people with the gospel,” Jay emphasizes.

(You can read more about the Parks’ story at www.newlifekona.com.)


By Ann Maniscalco

Sowing the Seeds

Gina, Bob, and their children recently moved to a new city. To meet the neighbors and begin sowing seeds of kindness and the gospel message, they planned a “dessert on the driveway” event.

On eye-catching postcard-sized invitations, they introduced themselves and invited neighbors to drop by on a certain day and time to enjoy ice cream and cookies. Attaching a ribbon loop to each invitation, they dropped them off on the neighbors’ doorknobs early that week.

Setting up a few chairs and a table with refreshments, name tags, and balloons, Gina and Bob were delighted when a few neighbors stopped by. Children played together as the adults chatted. Soon a few more ventured over, and one neighbor volunteered to grill hot dogs the next weekend.

Friendships were formed. And doors were opened!


By Ann Maniscalco

 

 

 

 

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