June 2016 E-Newsletter


Making time to listen and love right where we are is so important in times like these. Check out this beautiful excerpt from our friend Marty Troyer’s book, The Gospel Next Door, Following Jesus Right Where You Are:

Thousands of churches, families, and missional communities are following Jesus right where they are and are being transformed along with their neighborhoods.

Ordinary Christians are putting their faith into practice- taking Jesus seriously, joining God in healing their neighborhoods, and refusing to remain silent about what they’ve witnessed.

This story does not come naturally to most of us. Most of us inherited a story about mission centered on foreign missions, which has to do with a sender (local congregation or mission agency) sending special people (missionaries) to a special place (over there!) to do special things (missions).

Ordinary Christians, in this model, are demoted to secular careers that produce tithes and to church membership that invites volunteerism.

But God invites us into a more nuanced narrative. The mission of God invites us to imagine a new sender (God) who sends all people to the places they already live to restore all things. No longer do we compartmentalize super-Christians who respond to God’s call to go and second-class Christians who choose to stay.

Being a “normal Christian” actually means doing the very things Jesus would do if he were living our lives. True missional living invites us to imagine things differently: God, the gospel, the places we live, and our part in God’s restoration project.

Excerpted from The Gospel Next Door: Following Jesus Right Where You Are (Herald Press, 2016). Used by permission. Available for purchase on Amazon.com

A Real-Life Example of The Gospel Next Door

Churches all across Greater Houston are joining Jesus in His work around the world AND right here in our city. We hope you’ll be encouraged and inspired by Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s journey!

CEPC’S Missional Foundation


A commitment to Missions has always been an integral part of Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church (CEPC). Everything they do is rooted in a strong Biblical foundation, and their commitment to missions is no exception. Members give generously of their tithes, time, and talent out of gratitude for the richness of God’s grace and mercy.

The Tumaini Children’s Village in Kenya that CEPC founded is a great example of their commitment to missions. Built 8 years ago, the orphanage and school are changing the trajectory of children’s lives. Through the direct involvement of house parents, staff, teachers, and church sponsors, these children are experiencing the love of Christ in a very personal way. Lives are being transformed and the next generation of Christian leaders is being raised up because of CEPC’s commitment to Tumaini.

This past year, CEPC began praying and seeking ways to deepen their local outreach ministry efforts. The church was having such a transformational impact in Kenya, and they wanted to have that same kind of impact in their own community right here in Houston. Supply drives, service days, and volunteering were already very important to the church, but they wanted to pursue a more long-term local partnership. The success of last summer’s “Back to School Backpack Blessing Drive” confirmed to church leaders that the congregation had a real passion for making a difference in the lives of local children. This led Pastor Richard Harris to consider connecting with a local school directly. “But how do we do this?” he wondered.

That’s when he came across Loving Houston (on Twitter of all places)!

Beginning a New Partnership

Pastor Harris reached out to Loving Houston immediately, and CEPC dove headfirst into our Loving Houston school partnership process. A team of CEPC elders and deacons came to a Loving Houston Equipping Session where their eyes were opened to the struggles of many of our Houston-area kids and schools. (The Biblical basis we provided during the session was in line with CEPC’s Biblical foundation for service, and they felt affirmed they were on the right path!)

Over the next several weeks, Outreach Deacon Lori Petitclerc and the CEPC team walked through Loving Houston’s step-by-step Action Plan that they had begun together during the Equipping Session. Then, after going through the appropriate approvals at the church, CEPC officially formalized their commitment to partnering with a school in January. Praise God for the unity of mission of the CEPC leaders!

CEPC chose a school using our Loving Houston Searchable Map and, after much prayer, Pastor Harris and his team approached Cedar Brook Elementary Principal Jeff Post. The team used tips and question recommendations learned at the Equipping Session and asked HIM how they could help with HIS school’s needs and goals. It was a memorable meeting!

Principal Post then introduced the CEPC team to the school’s PTA president, and another special relationship was formed. Together, they made plans to serve the school during Teacher Appreciation Week in May. CEPC’s “Just Older Youth” (JOY) group volunteers made and handed out 100 bags of special treats to teachers and staff each day that week and then served alongside the PTA moms during the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon.

As Lori thinks back to that week in May, she remembers that the goal of the CEPC volunteers had been to encourage the teachers and staff, but it turns out that they themselves walked away so inspired by the hard work, dedication, and talents of the staff at Cedar Brook. “WE were affirmed! What a gift God has given us to partner with this wonderful school!”

Looking Ahead

Principal Post has asked CEPC to continue to help support the Cedar Brook teachers this coming school year. CEPC will also be training mentors through the Spring Branch ISD mentoring program and sponsoring students for the school’s October Pumpkin Fun Run. At the end of the past school year, CEPC even received approval from the Principal and the school district to send their VBS flyers home with every Cedar Brook kindergartener. God is definitely at work in this partnership!

“We love that a church-school partnership provides us with the opportunity to impact children, teachers, parents, and an entire community… right in our backyard! And yes, it does take intentional actions… but when you step out in faith, amazing things happen!”  – Lori Petitclerc, CEPC

All across Greater Houston, churches like CEPC are coming alongside administrators, educators, and families to transform our communities together – one school and one child at a time. They’re also changing our neighbors’ perceptions of God and the Church through their faithful service! Imagine if EVERY school in EVERY neighborhood in Greater Houston had a church partner like CEPC, a body of believers committed to building authentic relationships, showing the love of Jesus, and offering hope for a brighter future in a very tangible way. Pray with us that more churches will commit to loving Houston by serving local schools.

Want to join God in the work He’s doing in your community?  We’d love to help!   
John 13:35 “…By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.”
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