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!

Gathering, Service, Meeting Place, and Prayer Needs

Happy Spring from The River Church!

Spring has sprung here in the Yakima Valley! The tulips and daffodils are coming up beautifully and the trees are starting to green up. I even wore short sleeves as I walked the girls to school this morning. What more could you ask for? Well, I’ll tell you what more, prayer!

As most of you know, we had our very first worship gathering as The River Church March 30. It was a wonderful time of worship and celebration of all that the Lord has done. I would like to set up an Ebenezer stone as Samuel did in 1 Samuel 7:12 and say, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” And he has!

We have been adding several more names to the prayer team this month. We are well over half-way to our goal of at least 200. You can join our prayer team by clicking “Contact.” Be sure to let us know how you prefer to be contacted.

We are also about to add another family to the core team! We have been prayerfully exploring how we can partner with a local ministry called Helping Hands 4 Christ to better reach our community with the gospel. They are doing some fantastic work! We have been getting some logistics together such as insurance and non-profit status. Not the most exciting news, I’ll admit, but it needs to be done and every little step is important and is evidence of God’s grace and mercy throughout this whole journey. Thus far the LORD has helped us!

Our prayer needs are very similar to last month. We are still praying for more prayer partners. We are praying for 4-6 Missional Communities to be started over the next several months. We are beginning with our core team this month and will hopefully multiply out from there. Please be praying for the core team as we step out in faith and make new connections with our neighbors to invite them into community in Christ. We are all out of our comfort zones and need the Holy Spirit to give us boldness!

We are also praying for more discipling relationships to be formed. We are especially praying for more connections with lost people around us. Please pray for several individuals and families we have been reaching out to and inviting to join us at The River.

As you know, meeting the needs of people around us is one of the best ways to reach people with the gospel. We are prayerfully considering how we can best do that here in Moxee. Each community is unique and each community has unique needs. We are more than happy to bring cookies to the teachers at our local school and to our local fire department, but we’re hoping to go a little deeper into what would be most meaningful to the people of Moxee. Can you please pray that God will show us very specific, unique ways to meet needs around us that will show Moxee that we mean business and we care about individuals, families and the community around us? Pray that God would begin opening doors to His gospel and we would be bold and faithful to share it at every opportunity.

We are exploring different options for places to meet for our worship gatherings. Our first choice is Moxee Elementary. Please be praying for us as we apply to reserve that space,and if God has another place for us, that he would make that clear.

Please also continue to pray that God would raise up more financial partners. Financial partners are critical to obtaining the resources we need to operate, stay afloat and do ministry. If God is leading you to be a financial partner with us click “Give.” I am happy to say that God came through in some amazing ways last month in this department! I wish everyone could see God working in the way that we have while on this journey. It’s been the scariest thing we’ve ever done but by far the most rewarding. Nothing has been sweeter than watching Jesus take care of us. It has also given us new meaning to “our daily bread!” God is faithful! Thus far the LORD has helped us!

I suppose that is all for now. Please feel free to contact us with any prayer requests you may have. It is our pleasure and privilege to lift each of you up in prayer.

God bless,

Cheryl

 

Preparing to LAUNCH

Friends,

Cheryl and I have taken so many steps on this journey of church planting. Now we’re getting ready for another big one.

Over the next two days we will be attending a church planter assessment retreat led by The LAUNCH Network. We’re excited about this chance to be challenged and encouraged in our call to plant a church in Yakima, Washington. As a result of our time this weekend we hope to have a greater sense of clarity in our calling, as well as an understanding of our strengths and areas of improvement. Another benefit from our time will be the potential for some additional training and coaching. (I could always use some more training!)

We so appreciate your prayers over the next 48 hours (and always!). We are confident that God will use this experience as another important step in our church planting journey.

Grace and peace,

Michael

P.S. Click here to Give.

P.S.S. Click “Follow THE RIVER CHURCH” to get e-mail updates from the blog.