Fellowship Deaconry Blog

Sharing Updates and Stories from Fellowship Deaconry Ministries
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Praise Fest Recap

Saturday, October 21, was the Family Praise Fest at the Fellowship Deaconry. I am excited because people are excited.  At least three or four pastors and other ministry leaders who were there said to me, “Next year how can I be involved … ,” or a variation there-of.  A woman visiting the Deaconry on Tuesday stopped by my office to share how she had been blessed at the Praise Fest, and as she shared she became excited and joyful and ended up praying right there for the Deaconry and for “God’s move” and for “souls”. If nothing else, she was excited by what she experienced as the presence of the Holy Spirit manifested in the praise and worship that went on Saturday.

The sense of awe, worship and praise carried on into the evening and the Greg Buchanan concert. The joy he expresses to God with his playing cannot be captured on a CD or in a video (as great as they are): being present during Greg’s performance was such a perfect cap to a day of proclaiming God’s Kingdom.

The entire Deaconry team did a fabulous job. The logistics and infrastructure were well done, and the numerous activities for the kids were fun yet peaceful. Every staff member, and every volunteer, invested fully in the day, and Jesus was glorified.

The only way I could have been more pleased by the outcome would be if there had been more people there.  Then again, being this was the first time we’ve tried an event like this, it was for the best that the crowds were manageable and gradual, i.e., steady all day long. 

This truly was THE FIRST ANNUAL Family Praise Fest at the Fellowship Deaconry.

Please continue to pray for us for God’s provision, for His leading, and for His anointing that we might grow in Grace and effectiveness.

- Rev. Joel Davis, Executive Director 



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Discovering Columbus on Columbus Day



Today is Columbus Day. I recently finished reading a book sourced on Columbus’ own journal entries, and documents of the time, and, I must say, based on what I read, I was surprised by a few things. Note below:

1 – In 1492 literate people did not believe “the world was flat”. Since the days of the Greeks and Romans, and certainly after Marco Polo, there was debate about how large the circumference of the earth was. One reason Columbus undertook his venture: he believed the trip would be short, maybe only a couple of weeks or so, because he believed in a smaller Earth.

2 – The novelty was not that Asia could be reached by going west: The surprise was that there was a continent in between.  Columbus, himself, probably never fully understood this, even after four trips he believed the civilizations of the East “had to be around here somewhere.”

3 – If we are to believe his own journals and logs (remembering 1492 is about 20-years before Martin Luther), Columbus was a Christian believer who knew the scriptures.  Besides seeking a trade route to Asia, Columbus was focused on the opportunity to peacefully bring the Gospel to people whom he believed had not heard about Jesus. He was thinking about the people of Asia, but part of his fundamental motivation was missions work.

4 – The Crown in Spain issued a decree specifically forbidding mistreatment or enslavement of any native peoples, instead commanding that they should be treated with respect and dignity. Yes, that deteriorated and eventually collapsed into bloodshed and exploitation, but that was due to the frenzy fueled by thoughts of enormous riches, and that unleashed greed: Columbus’ hope of peacefully spreading the Gospel was trampled as well in the stampede.

5 – As Columbus meandered around the Caribbean looking for Asian civilization, he encountered several tribes and groups of people. The Caribe tribe were cannibals, who harassed and victimized other tribes. There were hostilities and conflict among other groups too. All was not Eden.

6 –On his first journey an attempt was made to leave a colony on “Hispanola” (present day Haiti and Dominican Republic). Columbus left a group there while he, himself, returned to Spain to repair, equip and resupply his ships, leaving instructions that there should be peace and respect between the colonists and the native peoples.  It was during this absence that “something” went horribly wrong at the colony in the Caribbean. When Columbus returned many had died from disease and starvation (the Europeans did not adapt well to the climate or diet), and hostilities had erupted with the local tribes.  One side accused the other of one offence or another: Neither Columbus (who was a brilliant sailor and a lousy administrator) nor the Crown were able to enforce their hopes for peace. This colony was eventually abandoned.

7 – Finally, this culture clash did not turn out all good and well for the Europeans either: A big surprise to me was learning that the disease of Syphilis, and the ravages that brought to Europe, was carried back home by none other than the crew from Columbus’ voyage. It seems there are no recorded instances of Syphilis in Europe until after 1494, or thereabouts.

Columbus was a superb seaman, a good enough leader to hold together a crew who had undergone tremendous suffering and deprivation, and a man who pursued good intentions. Was Columbus naïve and inept as a governor, and as a politician? It seems, yes. Whether it be the Iroquois conquering the Mohawk, or the Vikings plundering the French and English, or the atrocities in Rwanda, or the Mongols racing across the Steppes into Europe, or Muslims invading Spain, or the Aztecs absorbing surrounding tribes, and on and on, history has shown that when cultures and peoples clash the outcome is usually grim.  It is the fallen human condition: It is sin: It stinks.  Ultimately Jesus, and the Gospel, *are* the only remedy … one heart at a time.  At least to some extent, according to these documents, that was what Columbus hoped for too.

- Rev. Joel Davis, Executive Director 



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Is there a place for me in Global Missions?

Many believe that there isn’t a place for them in global missions, unless they sell all their possessions and move to a distant land.

You can contribute where you are right now! There is more than one way to get involved and whatever your skill or trade may be, it can be used to benefit the cause of Christ worldwide. 

If you don’t have time to offer, but have resources, consider financially supporting a missionary. God may plan to have you serve him abroad, and others may help in sending you! All of us must pray, as reaching he nations is God’s heart and desire. 

Come to CROSSroads 2017 global missions emphasis weekend sponsored by Liberty Corner Missions to discover how you can be more actively involved in fulfilling the Great Commission and find out how you can join!


CROSSroads 2017

Global Missions Emphasis Weekend September 29 ~ October 1

Liberty Corner Mission USA will again host three rich days of challenging messages, stirring testimonies and meaningful worship, all based on the theme of sharing the Gospel with the unreached, as well as making disciples worldwide. This year’s keynote speaker is YWAM’s Brian Hogan, PERSPECTIVES course speaker and former church planter to Mongolia. “Reaching the Nations ~ The Family Business” is the theme. Plan now to attend … you won’t be disappointed!

No registration or fee is required for any session; reservations are needed only for meals and overnight stays. Overnight: $37-46/room/night ($10 per person registration fee) Breakfast $7.50 Lunch $11 Dinner $14

To register, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with CROSSroads 2017 in the subject line, or phone 908-991-3212.











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Vision Bits #2

Vision Bits #2

To have a “vision” simply means to have an idea of what something should look like.  That can include, “Where are we going?” but it also includes practical and mundane things.

I recently visited a Bed & Breakfast in an old Victorian house: One could see the place reflected respect and dignity: “Respect” and “dignity” do not have to mean “stuffy” or “fancy.” There were no gold doorknobs, but there was order, and care taken with how things were arranged, and it was clean. These things reflect a godly view, and we find this in scripture, not only with God’s instructions for assembling, cleaning, and maintaining the tabernacle, but also in the “rules” he gave the Israelites for building and caring for their houses. In the temple the Levites were the priests who took care of the place, and God gave them a vision for what it should look like, providing specific instructions for even how to clean the utensils.

How we care for a place is a reflection of what we think of that place, but also, maybe more profoundly, what we think of ourselves in that place.  What is given to us to take care of, where we live, it should look like it is loved. We should love where we are because God has us there, and we respect God. It is good to keep this in front of us to encourage and remind us to maintain our places. We strive to do that everyday here at the Fellowship Deaconry. 

- Joel Davis, Executive Director




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Vision Bits #1

Vision Bits #1

 II Chronicles 20:15 was sent out at the turn of the year as the Sisters’ “Verse of the Year”: “… for the battle is not yours, but God’s”. Fine and good. There are many instances in scripture where we are told how God aided, rescued or miraculously delivered Israel, and we are encouraged to believe that He is with us in the battles we face.

But what about BEFORE the battle? When Israel went out to battle they went out EQUIPPED for battle.  YES, in many instances they saw God’s deliverance. In every instance they went out to battle with arrows for their bows, spears, swords and shields, and sandals on their feet.  This means that BEFORE there was a battle, someone in Israel was making arrows! Someone was making swords! They prepared.  

I believe the Fellowship Deaconry is in a place of preparation: God has provided a time for us to regroup, rethink and repurpose. If we mistake this for a time of rest, when the battle comes – when the OPPORTUNITY comes – we may, at that time, find ourselves helpless to enter into what God calls us to do.

- Joel Davis, Executive Director




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Summer Blog Series Recap

This summer we had a weekly series of conversations with staff members of the Fellowship Deaconry. Thank you for following our interviews! In case you missed any, follow the links below to read and get to know some of our staff who make Fellowship Deaconry Ministries what it is today. We will be resuming this series again for a Winter 2017 Blog Series after Thanksgiving.

  • Emma - Camp Counselor from Australia
  • Chiara - Deaconry Volunteer from Germany
  • Renee - Director of Sunshine Preschool
  • Matt - Hospitality Manager and Ropes Course Manager
  • Sister Ruth - Passionate Gardener and Evangelist
  • Shanti  - Conference Center Manager
  • Sister Maria - Housemother of the Sisters
  • Paul - Food Services Manager


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A Conversation With Emma

This week, we sat down with Emma, one of our summer camp counselor managers for Day Camp Sunshine who comes all the way from Australia.

Where are you from?

I’m from a little town called Evans Head in the eastern side of Australia and I’ve lived there for 27 years.

When did you first come to America?

I first came on a school trip in 2005 where we did an exchange program, and I went to a school in Seattle for a bit. I started coming to America frequently in 2013.

How did you end up here today?

In 2013 I went through an agency called Camp Leaders. Basically you put in an application with this agency and camps take a look at your application. I had an interview with two camps before Day Camp Sunshine and I had to say no to them because they weren’t Christian camps, and my main purpose for coming over to America was for ministry. Day Camp Sunshine came along and interviewed me and now I’m here!

What do you do here?

For the past two years I have been the middler-camp manager. I oversee about 100 kids between the ages 5 and 8 for the summer. I work a staff with about 17 underneath me, and they work directly with the kids. Before that I was a camp counselor and I had the same group of girls for three years.

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment I don’t have any. I’m a qualified teacher - I have a teacher’s degree specializing in early childhood, so there’s potential for me to go back to that. At the moment, my future is in God’s hands.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I live in a small beach town with a lot of sea-life, so I love to go to the beach and going for walks. I love spending time with my family and having coffee with friends. Australia has an awesome coffee culture.

What are some of your favorite movies or TV shows?

I love to watch the Gilmore Girls, The Office, and Friends.

Do you have a favorite scripture?

Psalm 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God.”

I love that one because we use ‘busy’ as an excuse to not spend time with people or God. I say I’m busy all the time but it’s important to draw back and be in God’s presence.

Any leaving thoughts?

It’s tough. You spend so much of your life with these kids - you’re with them everyday for three months of the summer, and I did that for five summers. So on Friday it really hit me when I said goodbye to like 10 of the girls and I lost it. We were talking about memories and how little they were. Then they started crying and I started crying. So I’m really going to miss it. A lot of my heart is here and I think it will always be here. This is where my life basically changed forever. I learned a lot over the past five summers and God has really changed and molded me to who I am today.



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A Conversation With Chiara Ege

This week, we sat down with one of our helpful volunteers all the way from Germany, Chiara Ege.


Where are you from?

I’m from Schiltach, Germany. It’s a small town of about 4,000 people in the black forest of Southern Germany.


How did you end up here?

I went to a conference in Germany looking for something to do after school for a year. There was the Marburger Mission and so I applied. I had to go to Marburg, Germany for an interview, and they made the connection here and told me I could come.


What do you do here?

In the beginning I was just working in the preschool, but then I began helping with housekeeping and the dining room. Right now I’m working with Clyde [Rengulbai] and the Sisters maintaining the guest houses, helping with the dishes and general cleaning.


What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I’m really into the arts. I like singing, fashion, design, reading, and hanging out with my friends.


When did you begin speaking English?

They started teaching us English in the second grade in school, but we didn’t really talk too much. I first came to the United States two years ago and it forced me to talk a little bit more in English, but since I’ve been here [at the Deaconry], I’ve gotten pretty good. I also sing and watch movies in English.


What are your plans for the future?

I’m going to apply for college to do something with art when I get home, but in the meantime I’m going to work. I still want to do mission trips and just travel a lot. I really want to see the world.


What places have you been to in the United States?

I’ve been to Arizona where we visited Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. I’ve also been to Las Vegas and San Diego. In Germany, I’ve always wanted to visit the United States. There’s so much to do in so many states, because in one state you have a desert and the next you have the ocean!


Any leaving thoughts?

I liked it here and I loved the people. I really learned a lot about myself, plus my English got pretty good! Overall, it was a nice experience and I would definitely do it again if I could.

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A Conversation With Renee Hartford

This week we sat down with Renee Hartford, Director of Sunshine & Infant Care.


Where are you from?

I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and my husband and I have lived in New Jersey for the past nine years.


How did you end up here?

My husband and his father franchised a company from Kansas City up to New Jersey in 2008, and that’s what brought us here.  I was a graphic designer before and I didn’t like my job. I heard about an opening here with the toddler program just starting, so I applied and got hired as the first toddler teacher here.


What do you do day-to-day?

I am both the head teacher and director for the preschool. This means that I am responsible for working with the teachers on lesson plans and curriculum for the kids, giving tours and helping new families join our program, working with the families in our program to provide them a place that they love for their children to be at, continuing to improve the school and the programs we offer, as well as all the other little things such as the preschool budget and keeping our name out in the community.  I am a jack of all trades.


What are some of your hobbies/interests?

I have two little girls, so right now a lot of family time is really important to me when I’m not working. When I do have some spare time, I also really enjoy cooking or trying new foods. My favorite place to be is Colorado. It is where I was born and my family hopes to eventually live there someday.


What is your favorite TV show or movie?

For TV shows, it’d be This Is Us on NBC. And for movies, I’d say P.S. I Love You with Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.


Do you have a favorite scripture?

Hebrews 11:1

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

When things aren’t going right, just hold faith. Be sure about what you want out of the situation.


Any leaving thoughts?

I like that my job never allows for a dull moment. I have a graphic design background and I like that I get the chance to be creative and have fun with kids but at the same time I also spend time doing finances, and spreadsheets.


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A Conversation With Matt Bowman


This week we sat down with a newer member of the Deaconry staff, Matt Bowman.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Blairstown up in Warren County, New Jersey. My parents have a 70 acre hay farm there that I grew up on.


When did you start at the Deaconry?

I started at the Deaconry on May 1st of this year and I officially took over the ropes course on July 1st.


How did you end up here?

Someone told me that the Deaconry was potentially looking to hire, so I sent Executive Director Joel Davis my resume back in January. We began talking and eventually there was an opening and now I’m here.


What is your role here at the Deaconry?

I wear a couple of different hats. I’m the ropes course manager, the hospitality coordinator for retreat guests, and I assist Joel with various other projects.


What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I am an outdoors kind-of guy. I love hunting. In the Fall and Winter I mostly hunt waterfowl, which is like ducks and geese. I also like to go hiking and skiing. I’ve hiked all around the Delaware Water Gap, which is where I grew up. I would love to one day go to some of the national parks out west.


Do you have any favorite scriptures?

Philippians 1:6

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Everyone is somewhere along their journey and nobody has really arrived at the end of their destination. Knowing wherever you’re at, God is working with you.


Any leaving thoughts?

The people working here are really great. I get to work in a couple different departments, so I interact with almost everyone here. I really enjoy being out on the ropes course. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years, but I really started to get into it this past year. Come pop in and visit!




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