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Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide : What If to What Is by Chris Thompson

What if To What Is

by Chris Thompson   

Acts 2:44:  All the believers were together and had everything in common.   

Changing “what if” to “what is” may merely be the change of one letter, but it can also be the difference between justice and injustice; between health and happiness and misery and disappointment; between dreams deferred or denied, and dreams realized . . . between death on a cross, and resurrection.   

One year ago, I and others meeting in the most diverse square mile in the United States, where more than 60 languages are spoken, began to ask “what if?” We began to wonder, to explore the possibility for refugees and others marginalized by economic and political persecution. We visioned together, dreamed together, and decided together, the future of this community and the use of the community’s resources—decisions too often made by so-called experts, by politicians, bureaucrats, and outsiders.   

We asked, “what if the community invested resources in a common fund for community transformation? What if every resident could join in a process to decide the use of those community funds? What if the process was one of consensus, not competition, of dialogue and deliberation, not advocacy and argumentation?”  With those questions in mind, an experiment in direct democracy—the community trust—was born.   

On a night in August, nearly one hundred individuals speaking ten different languages and representing a variety of ethnic groups and nationalities met in small groups of eight to ten in the hallways, commons, and classrooms of a local school to share visions of a safe community, an educated community, a housed community, an employed community, a connected community, and a playful community.  They spoke in Somali, French, Farsi, Arabic, Nepali, and English, to name a few of the languages.  They discussed potential areas of community focus—areas needing resources and attention based on their shared visions of community; and they decided—together.      

When results were announced . . . participants in the room smiled, laughed, clapped, and cheered on that August night . . . Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu; Somali, Bhutanese, Burmese, Congolese, African-American, Afghani, Ethiopian, and others. 

What if?   

Catalyst 2.0 will offer the opportunity for our community to discover the greatest needs in the Kansas City area.  Begin thinking now what those needs are and how best to respond.  And be willing to participate in the process.
Posted by Terri Soper at Saturday, October 25, 2014 | 0 comments
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Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide : A Space in a Place for Face to Face by Becky Dempsey

A Space in a Place for Face-to-Face!  

by Becky Dempsey

Exodus 25:8:  Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.  

 A change in about 5% of our church building has, I think, resulted in about 95% of the change in our church personality. The Welcome Center is playing a big part in how we connect with one another.    

Remember how it used to be? Three of the one-time four church entrances opened into a hallway or small landing with steps. The front entrance still uses steps to get us into a small narrow foyer, bounded on two sides by steps leading up and down. That foyer leads into the Sanctuary, whose name and ambiance invite holy meditation more than relaxed or exuberant meet-and-greet. Even the newest entrance leads into a larger lobby area, to be sure, but that area is busy with parents and children—and from there you go right back into a hallway. 

The hallways encouraged us to move on to our destinations—Sunday School classes, meeting rooms—places where we met our small groups separate from the rest of the church body. The larger spaces—Social Room and Assembly Room—are still more like destinations than pass-throughs, and are often filled with small groups already in session. So we spoke our “hellos” hurriedly in the halls and moved on.

Now the Welcome Center is filled with happy sound—laughter and conversation among people of different age groups.  It’s a space where you can gather until all the group has arrived for a meeting.  It’s a space where you can catch up on all the news of the entire church body, with the written materials, the video, and, of course, the people.

Hospitality, community, fellowship—these are holy values. And the Welcome Center is one of the encouragers of those values.

A space in a place for face-to-face! 

As we celebrate paying off our Renovation Debt this month, thank God for wonderful transformations that have occurred in our church because of the Welcome Center and other updates in the building. 
Posted by Terri Soper at Friday, October 24, 2014 | 0 comments
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Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide : Presence by Blane Baker


by Blane Baker

Matthew 28:20b:  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  

In June 2014 ten of us from Second Baptist Church traveled to northern Thailand to participate in several projects among hill-tribe people near the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Our partner on these projects was Upland Holistic Development Project UHDP, founded by CBF and dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture and serving as advocates for human rights. In addition to working on various projects in this hill-tribe region, we experienced opportunities for spiritual renewal and reflection. Several factors, I believe, contributed to our focus on relationship with God.   

As part of daily devotions, we participated in daily readings together twice a day and also prayed individually during the day. As we reflected as a group, we felt that God was here before us and presently with us. While not a new discovery, the presence of God permeating our world is truly one of the mysteries of our faith. This reality both comforts us and challenges us to be aware of God’s presence.             

Another way that we focused more on God’s presence was through our interactions with local people. Even though we often did not speak the same human language, we shared bonds of commitment to sustainability in our world and advocacy for all people. We could see God’s hand at work through the development of an 80% edible forest from land that was once barren; we also saw how once-displaced villagers were finding paths to citizenship.             

Through these experiences we are reminded of God’s constant presence. We cannot be separated from God’s love or comforting, supporting presence. Where we go God has already been and continues to be. With support from Catalyst and our SEND Initiative, many of us have experienced God’s presence through missions. I am grateful for these experiences and pray that we will continue these efforts throughout the world.     

You don’t have to ask God to be with you; realize that God is present with you right now and always.  Jesus promised it.
Posted by Terri Soper at Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 0 comments
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