By Pastor Bruce Rietveld
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God”. Acts 15:19
I love the words of Jesus’s brother James. Let’s not make it difficult for those who are turning to God.
This morning over 2,000 rolls of toilet paper will be arriving at Riverside. We have been blessed again by a group of Pickle Ball players who help fund this and enable us to provide a home staple that costs and can’t be bought by food stamps. Many times, those we minster to have to make decisions on what to buy. Yesterday we had a pop-up Diaper Handout. It is such a blessing to be able to serve in this way to young moms, most single, who struggle with supplies they need to survive. Each pack of diapers has a card attached with handwritten messages or scripture sharing the love of Christ. Our Ark room remains a busy place helping many in need of household items and food. Last month someone donated a whole hog to the ministry, and we have been able to help families with ground pork and sausage to supplement meals.
This Easter we are offering Easter Baptism during our service. So far, we have 3 people signed up to be baptized. That is so exciting!! They come looking for hope. They come to a church for unchurched people seeking, turning to God.
This week has been a very busy week in the office. A homeless vet needing help. A dad who needs help with food to feed the kids. A young man heading out to drug treatment asking for prayer. A lady dealing with so much grief and mourning the loss of her husband who took his life. She is trying to understand and find some sort of peace. A man my age who wanders town looking for pop cans for extra money. He likes to stop by, visit and pray. And ya never know, we might have a few cans around the church too!! And it is only Wednesday!! Lol
This year we have been so blessed to see so many new people looking for help in recovery for so many things. Celebrate Recovery keeps growing. We feed close to 60 people now most weeks on Thursday night. We are teaming up with Freedom for Youth Ministries to share the love of Jesus with all the kids we are blessed to watch on Thursday nights while their parents attend recovery. Those kids have had a challenging life and we love them!!!
As Easter soon approaches, I just have to reflect on all that God has done and continues to do in this ministry. Sunday, I preached on remembering what God has done in our lives. Parting the Red Sea. Parting the Jordan River. So many times, he has been so faithful in our lives. In my life. We celebrate our 10th Anniversary Sunday April 26th. It is hard for me to believe it has really been 10 years. A God Possible Ministry. As we plan the celebration, we continue to realize how we must fully rely on God in every way at Riverside. We didn’t have a lot to start with. A mic, a small guitar amp and some chairs from Celebrate Community Church and the Pella Senior Center. And a crock pot of gravy and some biscuits. Can’t forget that part! A rented pole barn out by the airport. A dream to be a church for unchurched people. I held a cross given to me that was inscribed “Imagine what you could do if you knew you could not fail”. (I have always been a Schuller fan!) So many memories. Such wonderful support, blessings and prayer. That is still what keeps us going to this day. Your support, prayers encouragement, kind words and smiles. A God Possible Ministry. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
I remember in our planning meeting at the God Father’s Pizza in a small party room, a small group of us made a list. What do you think God likes in/about a church and what do you think frustrates God in/about a church? It was very interesting to listen and record the answers. That document remains in my office to this day. And a lot of what people spoke about really echoed the words James spoke. In Acts the early church was already dealing with ‘church” problems. And James simple said these words. Let’s not make it difficult for those who are turning to God.
We are blessed to have this day! And as a church we are blessed to have each of you involved in this ministry in so may ways. We reflect on the past years and see some off the challenging times. And there have been a few. But we remember that God has been and will continue to be faithful. And he has blessed us in so many ways!
Great is thy faithfulness!!