Community Action Projects

Last Wednesday, we sent out two Community Action teams from Koinoinia to assist a couple local organizations with various projects:

Reception House

Reception House is a temporary home for government assisted refugees. Their most important task is to ensure that our guests feel welcome, safe, and secure in their new environment. Each year, they assist approximately 800 refugees and migrants who are resettled in the Waterloo region. 

During their stay, our guests receive advice and hands-on experience on adjusting to life in their new country. We help each individual or family find a permanent place to stay, as well as assistance in registering for necessary documents such as OHIP and SIN, to become familiar with the Canadian banking system, and to have their language assessed.

Marillac Place

Marillac Place provides a safe home for women between the ages of 16 to 25 who are pregnant, or who have a child in their care, or who are attempting to regain care of their child. Mothers who come to Marillac Place receive 24-hour guidance and support, continue their education, and are enabled with the life skills they need to care for themselves and their child.

We were able to help them out by purchasing and planting flowers, maintaining landscaping, and cleaning inside. Much work was accomplished with our small team and the chairman was thrilled!

A genuine thank you to our teams for serving with heart and commitment! Enjoy the photos from the night.

Our awesome team at Reception House!

Our awesome team at Reception House!

Bryan Ferguson & Lisa Steenbergen serving at Marillac Place.

Bryan Ferguson & Lisa Steenbergen serving at Marillac Place.

Josh Kubassek helping to repair the existing deck.

Josh Kubassek helping to repair the existing deck.

The finished product!

The finished product!

Roosters, Earthquakes, and Machine Guns

Roosters. Earthquakes. Machine guns. What do these all have in common? They are all things our SLI team experienced in their first 24 hours in Guatemala City. After a day of flying, we crashed at our host, Hector Aragon’s, mission house. We enjoyed a fabulous symphony that first night; dogs fighting at 1:00AM, a confused little rooster at 2:30AM, an “earth-shake” (minor tremor) at 4:00AM and that darned rooster again at 5:00AM. I was ready to have that rooster for breakfast by the time I abandoned sleep at 6:00AM! Fortunately, great Guatemalan coffee helped restore our team’s spirits before we headed to a Guatemalan mega-church of about 6,000 people for their Sunday Service. We were greeted in the parking lot by attendants toting machine guns and whistles. We got a sharp whistle in our direction when we stopped for a moment too long. I have never appreciated Koinonia’s parking attendants so much!

However, as we entered the building, it was an entirely different experience. We took our seats and worship started. God’s presence was tangible. It is hard to describe that experience. The songs were all in Spanish and we could only pick up about every tenth word, but the unity in that place was astounding. We were singing words we didn’t know in a country where we were strangers, but it felt like home. “This is what the body of Christ is supposed to be like,” I thought. As our trip went on, I began to see that God will truly show up anywhere the church gathers in his name.

As we visited several schools over the next couple days, we had the opportunity to present the gospel to over a thousand kids through teaching, skits, singing and even dancing (yes, we all danced – that in itself was a small miracle!) Many of these kids had never heard the Gospel message and we had the opportunity see a great number come to Christ. There are far too many stories about these children, pastors, and missionaries to share them all here. We heard the story of a young, pastoring couple whose five-year-old son had died. They gathered around their son and prayed for him for fifteen minutes. Suddenly, he started breathing again. The faith of these people was overwhelming. I only hope we encouraged them a fraction of the amount they encouraged me!

After seven days of ministry in Guatemala, we made the trip over to Honduras. The next four days were spent doing ministry at schools in a squatter’s village outside Tegucigalpa. The community was a rough shamble of shacks put together from whatever scraps could be found, from tin to old tires to garbage bags. When it rained, their streets turned into garbage rivers flowing down the mountainside. For the past two years, Dale and Caroline Ruttan, have been working hard to establish ministries in the public schools of this area. The stories that came from this village broke my heart. Dale shared with us how he had been speaking to a grade 3 class. After hearing from one of the kids that his father had been just murdered the week before for his motorcycle, he asked how many other kids had lost a parent either to death or abandonment. Every single child raised their hand. Every. Single. One. Sickness runs unchecked. Crime is rampant. A person could get killed for 100 lempiras, the equivalent of about seven Canadian dollars. This is where these kids are growing up.

However, one story of a little girl named Daniella, impacted me more deeply than any other. We were at one of the schools and she came skipping up to me. “Quantos tienes años?” (How old are you?) I asked her. Smiling, she held up six little fingers. She then proceeded to give me the tightest hug ever. I laughed and picked her up and spun her around. Other kids started lining up for “spinning hugs” but after every two kids, there was Daniella again, begging to be held. After most of the other kids had gone to chase other SLI students, I picked Daniella up and was walking around with her when Caroline came over to me.

“It’s really awesome that you can spend time with her,” she said. “At home her mom is busy with other men and doesn’t have time for her. She wants love so badly that she will take her clothes off and stand outside her neighbours' doors and say, ‘I love you. I love you,’ just to get their attention.” Something inside me broke. I hugged Daniella tighter and wished I could pour all the love of God into her. My heart broke for the life she could end up in if this is what she did at six years old. This is why the church so desperately needs to do what it is called to. There are a million other Daniella’s in the world who need what only God can give them. And God chooses to operate through us. This is why our mission is so important. Jesus’ last words before leaving earth were, “Go into all the world and make disciples.” I hope that these stories encourage you to do just that. We are called to be the hope of the world.  

2016: Deep, Wide, Unified

Welcome to 2016!

We are looking forward to all that God has for us this year as we go deep, wide, and unified.  Pastor Steve introduced this year's theme on Vision Sunday (January 17), and Nathan continued it on January 24.  In case you missed either of those messages, you can catch up here!

Let's continue to go deeper, wider, and more unified in our relationship with God, each other, and our world.

Happy New Year!

A Note From Our Pastors - January

Happy New Year! January marks a fresh start and is an opportune time to refocus our life and schedule. God has given each one of us a unique plan and destiny for our lives – and the most exciting life is one that He is directing, so let’s continue to follow His lead into 2016.

To help us refocus, let’s be purposeful about positioning ourselves to receive from God during our Week of Prayer and Fasting. As we join our hearts together, we are believing for breakthroughs in our lives, our community, and our nation. Let’s head into 2016 with great vision and passion! 

We also know that God’s Word is what sets direction for our lives and helps to keep us focused throughout the year. His Word speaks to us and gives us life for each day. If you’ve never read through the Bible, we encourage you to pick up a Life Journal from the Resource Centre. It’s an excellent resource for harvesting wisdom and allowing the people in the Bible to mentor you!

Looking forward to what is ahead!

Pastor Steve & Beth Fleming

Divine Desserts 2015

We had a wonderful night as women at our annual Divine Desserts night this year.  This year, we moved into the auditorium so that we could set more tables to host more ladies - and we sold out once again!  

Our team of hostesses each set a unique table using their own dishes and decorations, and they were absolutely stunning.  Our guests enjoyed wandering to admire the tables before our program began.

Beth welcomed the ladies and then it was time for the Divine Desserts!  We had an assortment of desserts from La Patisserie in Kitchener - individual cheesecakes and truffle cakes - plus fresh fruit.  

We gave away some door prizes, in true Divine fashion.  And we enjoyed a fun presentation by Marci Kreek with inspiring and affordable gift ideas.  Marci shared DIY ideas for teacher gifts, babysitter survival kit gifts, and many more.  We all enjoyed her creativity, and her good jokes!

Stacey Musselman (vocals), Vanessa Mio (violin) and Christine Snethlage (piano) shared their talents through Christmas songs to get us in the spirit of the season.  We were in awe of their beautiful sound as they played and sang together!  Then, Heidi Fleming wrapped up the evening with a few thoughts and prayer to inspire us as we prepare for the season.

Enjoy the photos!

 



A Note From Our Pastors - December

December is here and Christmas is just around the corner! As we enter this season, may we be more aware of the joy that it brings. Not simply in the decorating, opening of gifts, and time with family, but in knowing that God sent His Son so that we could experience salvation and new life in Him. Let’s take time to prepare for the season, not just our homes, but our hearts as well.

This year, let’s be intentional about bringing joy wherever we go, starting with inviting people to our Christmas services and events. Take time to slow down and really BE with people; stopping to pray and offer encouragement to those in need. Thanks for your generosity as we work together to reach out, care for each other, and make a difference in our world.

Also, let’s believe God for big things in 2016! Pick up your “3 Things I’m Believing God For” card when they’re ready and give your faith a target as we approach the new year.

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Steve & Beth Fleming

Missions Update - Guatemala

Here is a recent update from Anthony VanEngen, one of our missions partners in Guatemala:

Thank you Koinonia for partnering with the work in Guatemala. I want to share a little story how your donations are going to help people in rural Guatemala in the Santa Rosa region. I would like to introduce you to the Alvarado Rodriguez family. They are a family of 10 that has been affected by extreme poverty, hurricanes, floods and lack of education. Abandoned by the mother in 2007 the younger kids were rescued and placed in Casa Esperanza children's home where I have been volunteering for the last 11 years. In 2010 the courts awarded the father with custody. In 2011 I began looking for sponsors for school. The kids were very intelligent but the father was finding it hard to keep all 5 kids in school. He is also illiterate and finds it hard to find work. Since 2011 we have sponsored all 5 kids in school. In 2012 one of the sponsors who visited them where they were squatting in the hut (seen in the pictures) mentioned about building them a home. It was too big for me though it was confirmation. I was scared and just said it was a great idea. Little did I know it would be an amazing 2 years watching God grow my faith and supply all the funds for the project. The family was the poorest in the village. We declared Eph 3:20 over there lives and even put it on the first picnic table we ever made! (Since then we have made over 120 of these tables blessing families) Also a feeding program in this same village and others surrounding have stemmed out of this project. We now feed 570 kids 2 times a week in 4 different schools. Malnutrition is very chronic in Guatemala among children and we have been able to minister in these schools, it has opened the doors. 

Koinonia played a major in making this home for this family and continue to make the feeding program a reality. This family now has a new home. One day the father told me he thought God had forgotten about him. Well, God has shown him and his family His exceedingly and abundant Love through this project that continues to bless many. It is a real testimony that they continue to share.

Thank you for being a part in Gods plan for this family and helping to bless this region of Guatemala with His love.

Anthony