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Fellowship Deaconry Blog

Sharing Updates and Stories from Fellowship Deaconry Ministries
Messages from the Executive Director

Discovering Columbus on Columbus Day

source: history.com

 

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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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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The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength

In our last issue of Seasons our Board Chair, Fred Schumm, alluded to Nehemiah. In this issue, we also allude to the book of Nehemiah in several places. The Nehemiah example continues to resonate at Fellowship Deaconry Ministries. The book of Nehemiah recounts a stirring episode in the history of Israel. There was a material task to literally rebuild walls and repair gates in Jerusalem, but there were spiritual issues too. After having been defeated by Assyria and Babylon, most Israelites had been scattered to the winds or carried off into captivity, including the priests and Levites. After 70 years, and a partial return to the land, the inhabitants of Jerusalem had forgotten the Word of God, and the joy of His presence. In Nehemiah chapter 8 we learn that after the walls had been repaired Nehemiah and Ezra called for a holy day in Jerusalem. Ezra mounted a platform to read the Word of God aloud to the people. Their hearts were pierced, and they wept, as they realized that they had wandered away from worship, and had broken the Law. But Ezra and Nehemiah admonished the people to not grieve: “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 

The people were being instructed that it is a good thing to discover they had wandered off of the path that leads to joy. When God allows us to observe (or be reminded) that we have lost track of His Presence in our endeavors, we rejoice that He has intervened to get us back on track.  Here at the Fellowship Deaconry, we rejoice that God has impressed upon us to institute Staff Devotions on a mandatory basis: Every Friday, at 10:15, everyone at the Deaconry (including volunteers, part-time employees, regular staff and the Sisters) gather for Bible study and prayer. We structure our work schedules on Friday to make sure to attend Devotions for this hour. Along with prayer for Deaconry needs, this is the time when we, as a group, pray for you, and lift the Prayer Requests that have come into us from you by email, through our web site, or by personal contact. Jesus is at the center of what we say, and we are determined that He be at the center of what we do. “… the joy of the LORD is [our] strength."

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How Great is Our God?

Fellowship Deaconry GroundsBy: Ron Schober, Executive Director 

We may often think or say that God is good, and indeed He is good all the time, but that doesn’t seem to best describe how “all things work together for those who love Him and that are called to His purposes” (Romans 8:28). As the new Executive Director of Fellowship Deaconry Ministries (FDM) I have experienced the greatness of our God in directing my paths to help the board and staff understand God’s perfect plan for us as stewards of these precious resources here in Liberty Corner, NJ. As I walk around the grounds, I can only imagine how God has used this place and the Sisters for healing, transformation, and His glory during the past 82 years. It is my desire to seek His will and blessings as we explore new and significant ways to use our staff and facilities for His glory and honor.

We have an opportunity to serve our community needs as we partner with local churches and regional ministries to offer education, recreation, and restoration to youth and adults in the greater metropolitan area. With over 40 acres and more than two dozen buildings, the task is challenging to say the least. I have been blessed with a competent staff and wise board, but we need and covet the continued prayers, and support, of our Deaconry “friends”.

Your faithfulness over the years has allowed us to make improvements, repairs, and continue to make our facilities affordable to groups so they can experience God’s peace in the beauty and serenity of these grounds. I have listed a few investment opportunities for you to consider as we plan our needs. Perhaps one of these, or a portion of one, resonates with you, or a gift of any amount will help close our operating budget gap this year. We are also planning a new scholarship program to help sponsor a child in need with a Day Camp Sunshine or Sunshine Preschool experience. Would you be willing to help as you can to support these important stewardship opportunities?

 

A few investment giving opportunities – could you help meet some portion of our need?
  • New roof on our barn – we need 180 sections of shingles costing $100 each
  • We need a good, used, ¾ ton, 4-wheel-drive pickup truck for general utility and snow plowing
  • Replace four commercial double exterior doors – large chapel – these are $2,000 a piece!
  • Paint a wall or room – A $25 gift “covers” one of many rooms
  • Two laptops to replace aging units – $750 each to update our offices
  • Sponsor a camp scholarship – $150 is half the cost of a camp week
  • Help a Sunshine Preschooler with a $50/day or $250/week scholarship
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Thank you, Allen Smith

On behalf of the board and staff of Fellowship Deaconry, I would like to express our appreciation to Allen Smith for his leadership efforts during the past three years. He has worked to grow programs and resources and sustain the facilities that are the heart of our ministry. Through his efforts Day Camp Sunshine has grown and improvements have been made to benefit this important FDM program and outreach. He also oversaw renovations to the Sister’s living space, which integrated special cooking and dining areas to improve the efficiency and quality of their living. Allen brought many organizational enhancements as well, with updates to our website, governance, and accreditation with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Well done, good and faithful servant!

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Director's Corner

I have to confess that the end of summer for me is somewhat painful. In previous Seasons I’ve shared my childhood experiences and the impact that Camp Sunshine had on my life. Reflecting back on our summer camp season I can’t believe it just seemed to zip by too quickly. I’m sitting here thinking back on my childhood and remembering how sad I was when camp ended. I wanted it to continue year round. The power that camp can have on a child’s life can be incredible. For me it was life changing.

In order to run a successful camp, it’s a year round job. In our case preparation for the 2015 season began immediately after camp closed. Back in my day as a camper/counselor camp opened usually the last week of June and closed the Saturday before Labor Day. There was no pre-camp planning. We used the same program year after year and everyone loved it. Those days are long gone. We have a small camp staff team that works feverishly to deliver an incredible summer camp experience.

This year was an extraordinary camp season. Camp attendance was up, we increased the camp season by two weeks, the staff was the strongest we’ve seen in years, the annual drama play was a huge success, the family BBQ’s were amazing and best of all kids came to know the Lord.

I really want to thank the year round and summer staffs for their countless hours of hard work and dedication that made this season such a blessing.

The fall season is quickly upon us. Leaves have already begun to turn colors and drop. We’re preparing the facility for the winter season and I’m looking forward to a number of special winter projects we’ve got lined up.

This has been an exciting year for the entire organization. God has truly blessed us on many levels. Thank you for your prayers and financial support. Remember, if you’re in the area, stop by - I’d love to share a cup of coffee with you. Have a blessed and joyful holiday season.

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