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Posts by: Matt Woodley

India: A Transforming Trip

August 02, 2017

This summer, Resurrection sent one of our staff members to Northern India together with one of our missionaries to witness the work being done there and investigate potential short-term mission opportunities for us as a church. Her goal was to meet local believers and church planters, and participate in the life of the local church, and to learn how to lead a short term trip. While she was there she visited four different cities in the north of the country, as well as several villages, she met movement leaders, brand new believers, and children with heart-breaking backgrounds. She also strengthened our partnership with the missionary who hosted the trip. 
The political climate in India is not friendly to the type of work we are describing. So for the sake of our local contacts' safety, and our western partners' ability to return to the country, we are not using people's names online. Please reach out to the church office if you want to talk to this staff person and hear more about the trip. Here is her blog post about the trip.
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The city on the Ganges is overcrowded, and reeks with the spirit of death—millions of Hindus wait to die and be cremated on the steps leading down to the river, their ashes sprinkled in the polluted water, in order that their soul may achieve Nirvana: liberation from reincarnation. The city rings with the horns of too many vehicles on the roads, and the mantras chanted by pilgrims in the narrow paths of the old town. After an evening in the bowels of this oppressive chaos, the Buddhist neighborhood into which our team retreated seems peaceful and inviting. As we lingered, we realized that we actually perceived emptiness, an absence of anything good, loving or beautiful. This too is darkness.

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I had never encountered anything like this before. I went to India with one of our Church of the Resurrection missionaries to witness the ministry happening there. What I saw is that the Light of Christ shines more brightly against this grim backdrop. In turning to Jesus, people are being saved from truly terrifying spiritual realities, and their lives are dramatically transformed. They are freed from demonic oppression, healed of infirmities, and their stories inspire many more to turn to Jesus. I am inspired and humbled by the testimonies I heard and the people I met. There is a vibrant, grassroots multiplying movement going on in parts of the country that are less than 0.1% Christian. Hundreds of house churches have been planted in the last two decades, and the next generation of leaders is not waiting to be invited to the party—I met an 18-year old who had already planted 7 fellowships!

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In a society drained by poverty and corruption, the Church of Jesus Christ is reaching the lost and the least. A few years ago, a young leader of a church planting movement whom I’ll call Bhaiya  (the Hindi term for older brother) began reaching out to homeless children at the train station, feeding them at a local restaurant, teaching them about Jesus, and giving them basic education. He was finally able to rent a home, so the kids could get away from the station, and he now has 25 kids living there! Bhaiya, his amazing staff (who range in age from 18-22) and the precious kids took us in as members of the family, and despite the language barrier, they loved us and let us love them. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have never been particularly gifted in working with kids, so this experience was especially transformative for me. I left a piece of my heart behind when I left, and I am forever bonded to that place and those precious souls.

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I’d like to share one of their stories. This is Vikash. He’s around 15 years old now, but at a young age he lost his parents and went to live at the train station where he met some rough kids (Bhaiya sent me this picture of Vikash with the glue rag in his mouth, and I burst into tears when I saw it.) They taught him to sell stolen coal, to steal money from people, and to sniff glue. He had repeated run-ins with the police and was severely beaten. When Bhaiya first started reaching out to him, he would just cause trouble at the children’s gatherings, but one day he jumped on Bhaiya’s bike and said he wanted a new life. Vikash has been completely transformed by the love of Jesus, and the loving community at the children’s home. He is a wonderful older brother to the little kids, and upon meeting him you would have no idea of what he’s been through. He wants to serve kids at the station when he’s older, and he’s developing the skill set under Bhaiya’s loving discipleship. Each one of the kids has a unique, heart-breaking story, and they are still at risk – several have run away from the home and gone back to the station for various reasons. Bhaiya desperately needs our prayers for the kids’ safety and for perseverance for him and his team. May the Lord strengthen them and give them his peace as they shed light in the midst of profound evil.

Alpha is Growing Up and Moving Out

August 02, 2017

For the past two years we’ve been running Alpha courses within the walls of our church building. Alpha has proven to be an effective way to introduce people to Jesus in a fun and non-threatening setting. Each night is kind of an epic production with fresh flowers on the tables and delicious home-cooked meals and a great team of leaders. But since Alpha can also be very simple to run, we’ve been searching for and praying about new venues to bring Alpha outside our church walls. God has heard our prayers!

This fall we are launching two more Alpha courses—while we continue our Wednesday night Alpha right here. First, a few months ago, Joel Girard, a Greenhouse missionary and church planter who serves at the College of DuPage (COD), approached me and asked, “How can our ministry partner together all of you at Church of the Resurrection?” I had a quick reply: “Run Alpha at COD and we’ll help with training and food.” Joel prayed about it and said yes. So during the last week of August we will launch our first COD Alpha. We’re planning to offer the course over the lunch hour so we can draw the maximum number of students.

This fall we’re also launching our first Alpha in a jail. Mary Ann D’Onofrio, the chaplain for JUST DuPage, had been praying for two years that a church that would come and help her run an Alpha onsite at the DuPage County Jail. I guess God connected our prayers about running an Alpha and her prayer about hosting an Alpha. So in October we will start this new Alpha on Sunday evenings from 7:30-9:00 pm. We’ll pilot Alpha on the men’s side of the jail with the hope of adding another course this winter on the women’s side. 

Please pray our three Alpha teams of very committed leaders. Pray that the Holy Spirit would draw people to Jesus. And if you’re interested in helping out in any way, please let me know.

Matt Woodley
Mission Pastor
matt@churchrez.org
Tagged: alpha, alpha launch