Family Update; How We Baptized Three; Our Summer Plans

To our partners in the gospel:

Greetings from Moxee, Washington!

We have allowed several weeks to go by since our last prayer update. We pray you are well and that God is blessing your families and churches.

It has been an intense and fruitful spring here in the east valley of Yakima. After a very mild winter, summer has come on strong. The orchards are producing quickly and the hop vines are spreading. Cherry season started several weeks earlier than last year and is keeping our community busy.

Our family has been busy with a number of things, but God has been very good to us. The girls are doing well in school and have finished the year strong. Michael participated in commencement from the Pacific Northwest Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. It is quite a relief to finally finish that long journey.

Cheryl was offered an unexpected job opportunity. There is a cafe in our city that we love to frequent. The ladies who opened it one year ago have been pouring their lives into their small business. As we have gotten to know them, Cheryl recognized their need for help and volunteered. Her offer has turned into a part-time job! Now she is working almost every day for a few hours, sometimes more, and is building relationships with dozens of people in our community. Many of those relationships have resulted in gospel conversations. Please pray that much fruit would develop from this opportunity.

One of the highlights of our spring was the opportunity to share baptism with three believers. On Sunday, May 17, The River Church gathered for worship in the park and baptized two adult men and one girl. It was a beautiful time as each one shared their short testimony of how they came to faith in Jesus, and we baptized them into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Along with a certificate of baptism we gave each of them a study Bible to help them grow as followers of Jesus. (Please take a look at our Facebook page for pictures.)

Here is a little about each one: One man had professed faith as a child, but his life has been full of difficulties and struggles since. Yet, God worked in his life to steer him back to Jesus. He finally came to realize that if he was going to be a faithful follower of Jesus he needed to be baptized. Another man grew up in a religion that does not teach the biblical truths of Jesus. As a young man he came to a complete, saving faith in Jesus. He desired to experience believer baptism, too. Finally, one young girl also expressed her faith in Jesus through baptism. She was saved last summer during our Summer Children’s Program but needed time to understand her new faith and what baptism signified in her life in Christ. Pray for these three, that they will grow as followers of Jesus and grow in their understanding of God and his will for their lives.

We are very excited for another summer in Moxee. This week we will be participating in the first of several “Movie in the Park” events. We will be there to do face painting, give out balloon animals, and distribute invitations to our Summer Children’s Program.

This year our Summer Children’s Program will take place August 10-14. Our theme is “The Great Campout: Journey with Jesus.” During four days of games, crafts, music, and snacks, we will share stories from the Gospels that will help children understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus. At the end of the week we will have a Block Party with the entire community. Last year we had a great response from our city, we reached around 70 children, and several of them made decisions to follow Jesus. We were able to give out more than four dozen Bibles and several families began attending our worship gathering as a result. It was very apparent to us then, as it is now, that we cannot do it without the support of our partners. We want to thank you in advance for your generosity and prayer support. With your help we hope to reach more than 100 children and their families.

Please keep us in prayer:

  • that we will witness about Jesus with boldness and faithfulness.
  • that God will send faithful, mission-minded believers to join our church family.
  • that God will send us or raise up a worship leader.
  • that some property will sell so we can use the proceeds to invest in our city.
  • that God will provide all the resources needed for the “The Great Campout.”

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!