Summer Children’s Program and Block Party Report

From Cheryl:

Greetings from The River, Moxee!

It has been yet another amazing month at The River Church, Moxee! God has been blessing our family and church over and over again with his presence, provision and power. He has certainly done more than we could ask or imagine in the month of August!

We began the month by hosting a booth at our local Hops Festival here in Moxee. A big shout out to our friends at Helping Hands 4 Christ for providing the booth, tables and making the arrangements with the city for us to be there. You guys blessed us tremendously! We were asked to make balloon animals for the kids so that’s exactly what we did. But first, we had to figure out how to make balloon animals! (Again, thanks HH4C for the instructional video!) After a very short tutorial, we were set to make balloon animal history at Hops Fest 2014! I don’t think we actually made history, but I’m pretty sure we made hundreds and hundreds of balloon animals. None of us were prepared for how sore our fingers would become from tying off all those balloons. Ouch! But the good news was, we got about two dozen kids registered for the upcoming Summer Children’s Program! Yay, God! It was also just a wonderful opportunity to get out in the community and get to know them and let them get to know us. We even met one family there that has since joined us at The River. Praise God!!

After Hops Fest, our attention fully turned to the arrival of the Georgia mission team and the start of the Summer Children’s Program. I have to admit, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with all there was to do. But again, through God’s power and grace, it all got done. The GA mission team arrived on August 16th and were ready to get right to work. Lucky for them, there was plenty to do! We prepared crafts, went prayer walking, handed out information about the SCP, handed out water bottles and did many, many other activities. Of course, the highlight was the SCP, which began on the evening of August 18th.

The Summer Children’s Program was amazing!! First, we had two teams join us: Chestnut Street Baptist Church in Ellensburg, WA, and Terrace Heights Baptist Church in Yakima, WA. (Thanks everyone!) The hours that led up to that first evening were insane as we raced to complete a million last minute tasks but again, God was faithful and helped us through. Everything got done and we began the week with 36 kids in attendance. The next night, we had 50 kids come out!! Wednesday night, Michael presented the gospel to the kids and several raised their hands to pray and respond to the gospel!! We were overwhelmed by what God was doing and are still trying to follow up with the kids and their families.

The week culminated with the Block Party. It was another busy day with lots and lots of loose ends to pull together but God had it all in his capable hands. After a week of near perfect weather, on the day of the block party, rain and storms were predicted. Sure enough, as we finished setting up, the storms arrived. We prayed that God would still bring people out and he certainly did! We had approximately 300 in attendance!! I like to say God sent the rain because if it had been bright and sunny we would’ve been completely overwhelmed! Hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn and face painting were all a part of the fun to the glory of God. Another big shout out to CSBC, THBC, Parkway Baptist Church (GA) and Richland Baptist Church for providing the volunteers and resources to help make this happen. Several churches were used mightily by the Lord to make His name famous and give him glory!

The day after the block party it was time to say farewell to our beloved GA mission team. It had been an exhausting but fun time serving the Lord with them. Before they left, we of course had to show off our beautiful state and took a trip to Mt. Rainier. That was a special treat!

The Lord has certainly been working here in Moxee in the month of August. So much so, we can hardly keep up. Please be praying for us as we strategically plan for the last few months of the year. We would like to start up at least two additional Missional Communities and several new Discipling Groups. Please pray for us as we disciple new friends and neighbors that God has brought into our lives. We are praying for lives to be transformed! Please also pray for favor in the community and that God would bring more people into community at The River Church, Moxee.

God bless you all!

To help The River Church transform lives, families, and communities with the Good News of Jesus click here. Thank you for your generous support!

How God blessed our city during Hop Fest.

Moxee Hop Fest has been happening in our city for years and years. It’s a celebration of the hop harvest and the city of Moxee. This was our first year here and our first opportunity to be involved in the premier event in our community. What an awesome experience! God worked out a way for us to have a booth and to participate in the parade. We were able to share the vision God has given us for The River Church and to sign up kids for our Summer Children’s Program. It was an awesome experience.

Back in the early spring we asked the East Valley Community Enhancement Association about having a booth at the Festival. At the time we were unsure if we’d be able to set one up. But about a month ago, through the persistence of our friends at Helping Hands 4 Christ, we were able to secure a booth and get set up. We volunteered to make balloon animals for the kids as part of our contribution to the Festival. What a blast! After spending one evening learning a few basic balloon skills, we were ready to go! We probably made over 500 balloon animals and other objects. (I got pretty good at making swords and hats!) The kids visited our booth in droves and had a lot of fun.

We also registered around two dozen kids for our Summer Children’s Program, “The Story in the Park,” which we will hold at the Moxee Park August 18-21, culminating with a Block Party on August 22. In addition to the kids who registered, we passed out dozens more registration forms and invitations to join us at our Worship Gathering and Missional Communities. What a blessing it was to meet a family during the weekend who worshiped with us on Sunday and met with our MC Sunday evening! God has really encouraged us to keep on sowing seeds and expecting him to grow his church in his way!

Thank you for your prayers! We are convinced that prayer is the strategy for making disciples and planting churches. We cannot do it without your support. We love our partners and are amazed at how God is blessing The River Church and our community through you all. Thank you and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14, ESV)!

We’re really excited about the upcoming Summer Children’s Program. It will be our greatest opportunity yet to love our community and share the Good News of Jesus. Our theme for the week is “The Story in the Park.” Pray for us as we share The Story of Creation, the Fall, Redemption, and New Creation with our community. Pray also that we will receive the financial resources needed for food, supplies, and Bibles.

The Story in the Park, Hop Fest, Youth Camp, and Prayer Walking

from Cheryl:

Greetings from The River, Moxee!

I can hardly believe another month has passed since I last wrote. God has been moving and doing so much, I can hardly keep up with it all even in my journal. I just don’t have time to write it all down! What a wonderful problem to have!

Earlier this month Michael and I and our two oldest girls went to youth camp with our Terrace Heights partner church. The camp is named Camp Touchet (pronounced “tooshie” so that’s a lot of fun!). It was a five days of teenagers, heat (sometimes in the triple digits with no A/C) and God transforming hearts and lives with the gospel. It was that last part that was so exciting. As is usually the case, I feel I got far more than I gave. It was an awesome time of seeing the Holy Spirit work in some really specific ways.

Camp Touchet

I went only as a counselor but when we got there I suddenly found myself being put in the position of discussion group leader for all the 9th grade girls. I didn’t know that’s what I would be called upon to do but God did and He had a plan. The first day went pretty miserably. I know it’s hard to believe but in a group of about 15 9th grade girls, almost none of them wanted to talk. It was like pulling teeth! I was very disappointed and went to the Lord about it and prayed that the Holy Spirit would empower our time together the next day and He would move and get those girls thinking and talking. The next day, sure enough, we had a wonderful discussion time as the girls expressed how God was moving in each of their lives during camp.

Camp Touchet ended with several kids making decisions for Christ for the first time and several others answering the call to a deeper walk with the Lord. As a result, I am now discipling one of the young ladies that went to camp with us, along with my own girls. What a privilege! Please pray for both Michael and me as we seek to be obedient to God in the call to discipleship.

One of my favorite things that I saw the Lord do this month was during a prayer walk. Michael and I were walking through our community, praying for people and households as we walked. I had just been praying that the Holy Spirit would draw people to Jesus and bring people to us so that we could connect and share the gospel with them. Just then, a woman walked around the corner that I had met earlier this year and we began to talk. Soon, I was able to make arrangements to give her a bible and now we will begin doing a bible study together. Woohoo! God is working!

Prayer Walking

On another prayer walk, this time with the girls, we were able to pray with three different individuals. One man asked us to pray for his son whom he said may be going to jail. Another man asked us to pray for his health. Please join us in praying for these individuals (God knows the details!) and please pray for us in general as we do prayer walking. God is really using those times to make connections in the community and to spread the gospel. We need the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for those times! Heaven forbid us doing any of it in the flesh.

As I write this, we are getting ready for a big day! Today is the first day of the Moxee Hop Festival and after meeting with my girls to do some Bible study, I, along with my family and the rest of The River Church will be spending the day at our booth at the festival. When we asked to be able to host a booth we were told they would like to station us near the kids area and asked if we could make balloon animals. We agreed to it and then borrowed a video about balloon animal making to learn how because none of us had any experience in balloon animal making! This morning we find ourselves armed with very little balloon animal talent and needing tons of the Holy Spirit to do what he has called us to do. Please pray that more than making fabulous balloon animal designs, we are able to reach people with the gospel. Pray that many parents would register their kids for the Summer Children’s Program.

Balloon Animals

And speaking of SCP, it is beginning in about two weeks! Eek! Please be in prayer for the teams that will be joining us from other churches. Some friends from Georgia are bringing a team to serve that week. Pray for their travel and expenses! Also, two of our partner churches in the Central Washington Baptist Association will be serving with us, Chestnut Street Baptist Church in Ellensburg and Terrace Heights Baptist Church here in Yakima. Please pray that during the Summer Children’s Program we will make lasting connections with many, many families and that ultimately, many people will come to know Christ as their Savior.

We’re really excited about the upcoming Summer Children’s Program. It will be our greatest opportunity yet to love our community and share the Good News of Jesus. Our theme for the week is “The Story in the Park.” Pray for us as we share The Story of Creation, the Fall, Redemption, and New Creation with our community. Pray also that we will receive the financial resources needed for food, supplies, and Bibles.

Incarnational Living, Hop Fest, and Children’s Program

Greetings from The River, Moxee!

It has been another exciting month of church planting here in Moxee! God has continued to awe and amaze us with His presence, power and provision. This month God has taught us that He can and will use anyone, and I mean ANYone to bring people closer to Himself and to fulfill His purposes.

We made several connections with our neighbors and fellow Moxee community members in June, but two stand out as awesome examples of God’s sovereignty and perhaps, sense of humor. The first was when we went to pick up one of our girls from a birthday party. We prayed God would help us connect with the parents before we left and sure enough, we stayed at least an hour talking with them, hearing their story and encouraging them with the gospel. To protect privacy, I’m trying to keep this as vague as possible, but what I found out through that hour of conversation, is that God can use neighbors that don’t actually like each other all that much to get people where they need to be. If God can do that, He can use anyone He likes to further his kingdom!

Another conversation happened when a man came to our door with his daughter. We didn’t know him and barely knew his daughter. We were very surprised but what I’m sure was intended to be a short greeting turned into a 2 hour long conversation. We were able to hear his story, share the gospel and invite him into community. Again, I wish I could share the whole story because it truly is amazing but confidentiality prevents me from doing so. Just know that God is sovereign. Nobody knocks on your door on accident!

Incarnational Living photo

We had the privilege of having our dear friends, Eric and Kim Lee, join us to share about living on mission. They referred to it as “incarnational living.” Eric and Kim have a small business that seeks to serve the thousands of people who live in apartment complexes in Seattle, and through their business they are building relationships that lead to Gospel sharing. Their methods are simple and something everyone can do. They believe, as do we, that God has put you in the neighborhood you’re in for a reason. It’s not a mistake or inconsequential to how He wants you to live out the great commission of going into all nations and making disciples. My favorite tip was going to ask a neighbor for a cup of milk or sugar or whatever you’ve run out of before sending your husband to the grocery store for an ingredient. Asking for a cup of milk, when done missionally, can open doors for the gospel!

August will be a big month for us! First we will be hosting a booth at the local Hop Festival of Moxee. This will be a great time to let the community see who we are and put a face to the name they have been hearing about. We will offer to pray for people and will be advertising the Summer Children’s Program set for August 18-22nd. Speaking of which, the Summer Children’s Program (SCP) is fast approaching! We need all the prayer support we can get for both events.

We are still excitedly planning for SCP. We plan to have four days of what is probably a traditional backyard Bible club in the park and then the last day will be the community block party. Please be in diligent prayer over both the Hop Festival and SCP. We don’t know who will show up at these events but God does. Our prayer is that even now He will be working in those people’s hearts, preparing them to hear the gospel and be transformed.

As you pray for the Summer Children’s Program understand that it will take partners to financially support it. There are reservations to pay for, food and bouncy houses, and advertising. In addition, we want to give a Jesus Storybook Bible to every family that attends our SCP or block party. They cost around $10 each and we hope to connect with at least 100 families that week! You can do the math! If you want to support this outreach to our community please give generously, and no matter what, pray!

Thank you for your faithful prayers! We depend on the prayers of the saints going up on our behalf to sustain us. Please contact us with any prayer concerns you may have. It is our privilege to lift up our partners in prayer.

God bless you,

Michael and Cheryl Johnson and The River Church

To help The River Church transform lives, families, and communities with the Good News of Jesus click here. Thank you for your generous support!

Update: New Gathering Place and Summer Program

from Cheryl:

We are doing well here in Moxee. I find myself, once again, enjoying living on the eastside of WA. There’s plenty of sunshine and heat to keep me happy!

Prayer Walking

This month we are continuing to reach out to our community through prayer walking. We like the analogy of “tilling the soil” and preparing it for seeds to be planted and hopefully a bountiful harvest. Please pray with us that God would soften hearts towards Him and people would be open to hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus as we encounter them during these prayer walks.

New Gathering Place!

We had our first worship gathering in the local community center this last Sunday! It was exciting to get into a new space and take another step on the church planting road. Please pray with us that many people would be encouraged and emboldened to meet with us in our worship gathering at the community center.

Missional Communities

Missional communities are going well! We are going through a version of the Story of God, produced by Soma Communities. If you have never done this type of bible study, I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to share the story of God and connect the gospel to people’s own stories and lives. Right now we have 3 MCs and are praying about being able to possibly start one to three more in the next couple of months. We would like you to pray with us that God would direct our steps in growing MCs in His timing and in His way with the people He has put in our path to partner with.

Summer Program

The final thing we would like prayer for is our summer children’s program set to take place August 18th-22nd. Please, please, please be in prayer as we plan and strategize for this event. Specific plans are yet to come but we are hoping to put on a “VBS” type event Monday through Thursday and then have a community wide block party on Friday evening. Community events tend to attract hundreds of people and families and we have the potential to reach as many during this strategic week. This is a huge undertaking for a church our size and age. (It’s great to be so young again!!) We need prayer for God to bring more workers into the harvest field. We have a team coming from our friends at Chestnut Street Baptist Church in Ellensburg, WA and we are VERY grateful for them! But we need as many people as possible; this is all hands on deck! So please pray for more workers. Please also pray God would provide financially for this event. Early estimates are that the whole week, including the community block party, could cost upwards of $2,000. We are praying that God provides generously so we can reach out to as many people as possible with the love and generosity of God. We have found God has been faithful through this whole journey and have no doubt He will be faithful here. But one inescapable fact we have seen be true over and over again, is that God shows His faithfulness through the faithfulness of His followers. That means people like you! Will you please pray about how God would have you contribute financially to the summer children’s program? The July update will have a more specific rundown of what is going to happen, but we would like people to be praying now as we begin planning and also to consider how God would like to include them in the plans. Would He have you go? Would He have you give?

Thank you so much for your faithfulness in prayer! We honestly couldn’t do this without the prayers of the saints. Keep praying! God is on the move!

To support the work of sharing Jesus in Yakima click here. Please contact us and let us know how you are partnering with us and how we can pray for you!

Communities, Girls Ministry, and New Meeting Place!

Greetings from The River Church!

We are enjoying life on the east side of Washington. The temperatures are starting to feel a little more like summer and the skies have been clear and sunny for the most part.  Today’s high was 90 degrees! God has called us to the sunny side of Washington and for that I am thankful.

It has been a busy month since I last wrote. This is probably best evidenced by the fact that we’re halfway through May and I am just now able to sit and write this update. We have been getting our Missional Communities started and currently have three in operation. Please pray that we would be bold to invite our neighbors and friends to join us in our missional communities and that God would grow them in His way and in His time. We are especially keen to connect with unsaved people around us. Please pray for more opportunities to reach unbelievers with the gospel.

The women at The River have begun volunteering at an alternative foster care home for girls in Yakima. This has been a precious time for each of us to reach these girls with the love of Christ.  We’ve even had a few opportunities to share about our faith in God and what He has done in our lives. Please pray for more opportunities and that God would draw these young women to Himself and bring lasting transformation to their lives. They desperately need Jesus!

We will begin meeting for our worship gatherings at the Moxee Community Center the first Sunday in June. We are very excited for this move and pray that God would use it to grow His church here in Moxee. Please pray for us that we would build a good relationship with the community center and they would view our presence there as a blessing. Please also pray we would become aware of more and better ways to serve the community through this connection.

As I write and reflect on all that God has done already, all I can think to say is, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” He has been SO faithful and SO worthy of all praise and glory and honor. This journey has been scary and uncertain but so exciting. I wouldn’t miss it for the world! I pray that each of you is faithful to pray and participate in this church plant exactly as God has called you. I know God has a blessing for each of you, as well. I encourage you to be faithful in prayer and enjoy watching God being faithful in everything.

God bless you always!