As you may know, for the past 21 months I have been the worship pastor at Jericho Road Church. It has been an amazing feeling following God’s calling and being obedient to the mission He has laid on my heart. Watching our church grow in number pales in contrast to seeing our core planting team along with our congregation embrace the same vision: Loving Jesus. Loving People. Changing the World. We have kept our mission simple. We believe that if we focus our value system on these three, fundamental principles and do them well, we will be specific and clear on our understanding and implementation of our mission.
Allow me to briefly explain each phase.
Loving Jesus: In this phase we recognize the need for Scripture, teaching and worship. We accomplish this through our Sunday morning services, equipping people to be self-fed from the word of God and able to worship Him in every aspect of life.
Loving People: We implement this phase through connection and community. We have mid-week community groups where people meet together for prayer, accountability, the study of scripture, to share life and even meals together. We also value being the hands and feet of Jesus in our city through service projects. We accomplish this through our community groups as well as something we call ‘Every 12th’ where every 12th Sunday, rather than a Sunday morning service, our congregation is actively meeting needs and serving in a specific project. Our Acts 1:8 team is actively finding new ways to serve our city and surrounding areas.
Changing the World: This phase involves reaching out beyond the comfort of West Michigan. We aim to bring the gospel to our surrounding areas but also to the ends of the earth. As a new church, this has been a difficult idea to contemplate when we consider the finances and resources needed to do this well, but we knew from the beginning that this was all a part of God’s mission for Jericho Road Church. An amazing opportunity has been given to us that we are very excited about. There is a small pocket of believers in the hill tribes of Chang Mai, Thailand that is in need of support and resources. There have been several trips taken by other members of our denomination (The Christian and Missionary Alliance), including our District Superintendent who actually moved his family there for about 7 years. The foundation has been established, but Jericho Road Church has the unique privilege of being their ‘sister-church’ in a continuous relationship. As you may be aware of, there are many things going on in Thailand contrary to what we as Americans would ever be okay with if it were taking place amongst us so publicly, specifically sex trafficking. By God’s grace there have been victims of this horrendous industry, salvaged from their torment and are getting the treatment and love that they need and deserve. There is an organization that our denomination has teamed up with called ‘Remember Nhu’, a non-profit organization that is determined to eliminate the exploitation of children in the sex trade industry throughout the world.
Our church has a team of five individuals, including myself, making our inaugural visit to Chang Mai, Thailand February 3-13, 2011. On this initial trip, we will be building relationships with the believers in the hill tribe country and also begin the construction of their very own church and worship center! This is the beginning of a new generation of believers on the other side of the earth! Our future plans also include sending teams annually to Chang Mai to train and equip believers and leaders in their attempt to convert the predominantly Buddhist culture in the hill tribes, welcoming future teams from Chang Mai to West Michigan, supporting the young man who will be the very first pastor of the church as he attends seminary in Bangkok and also fighting to preserve freedom from the sex trade.
Please know that I am not writing this to whomever I think will send me money. That is not my intention. I am sending this to people who I know have also been faithful to God’s calling: people who understand the importance and power of true sacrifice and fervent prayer. I am writing you to ask for your support on two different levels. First, and most importantly, be praying for the people of Chang Mai and that their hearts would be ready to hear the gospel. Our team also needs prayer. We need prayer for safety, travel, communication, new relationships, for good health and timely completion of our construction project. We also need to raise approximately $10,000 as a team, which will cover our flight, housing and food while we are away. It is my desire that you would join us as a prayer partner first and foremost, but I also hope that you would consider helping financially if God has blessed you over and above what you normally have. No amount is too small or too great.
If you are able to give financially, please send a check made out to Jericho Road Church, with ‘Thailand Trip - Eric’ in the subject margin. Thank you in advance for your support, whether through prayer or financial giving!
Please follow our progress at www.changmaithailand.blogspot.com.
With a grateful, humble heart,