My friends, it has been far too long since the last update went out in November. We knew that a December update would morph into a December/January update, and sure enough, here we are! And we have a lot to share with you!
The Christmas season was a beautiful time for our church. In one way, we were blessed to participate in amazing worship gatherings together, focusing our hearts and lives on the good news of Jesus in the Incarnation, “the Word made flesh.” In another way, this Christmas we have enjoyed more snow in the Northwest than we have for many years! This has certainly added to the beauty of the season, but has also given us some logistical challenges. It isn’t easy to get the trailer out of a driveway filled with ice and snow! We almost decided to cancel one of our December gatherings, but decided to persevere instead. I’m glad, because some of our local friends, who we have been reaching out to, unexpectedly braved the weather and joined us for worship that morning!
The snow also tried to affect our Covenant Celebration January 3. All night Saturday and throughout Sunday morning it snowed, preventing some of our partners and guests from making it. Even so, we had a very encouraging time of worship together and one of our largest attendances of the past year. Our charter covenant members signed a beautiful membership covenant that is now framed and humbly displayed each time we gather together. We were especially encouraged by the prayers and words of encouragement of our partners. We are continually amazed at the way God supports us and lifts us up.
Our new year looks very exciting. What follows are some of the things we are anticipating in 2016. Once again, we look forward to serving our community at Moxee Hop Festival in August. Also in August we will hold our annual Summer Children’s Program. A missions team from one of our partner churches in Georgia is making plans to come and serve with us, as well. Please pray for them, and us, as we finalize the plans for this exciting trip! In addition to these major events we are looking forward to Easter weekend, in which we are planning a Good Friday event, and a possible sunrise service with other local churches. We are also planning various training and discipleship events, including Financial Peace University.
We are also very excited to introduce a family who God has called to work directly with Michael in ministry. Chris and Chelsey Bell began worshiping with The River Church in the early months of our gatherings. As we began to get to know them it became clear that God was doing some very neat things in their lives. As Chris and I (Michael) talked, it became evident that God was calling him into ministry. He admitted that indeed God had called him! After some thoughtful prayer and consideration we realized God was leading us both to bring him into a church planting internship. He and his wife (and now 1-year old daughter Abbie) live in a part of Yakima that has not had a Baptist church for years. This year we will pray, study, and begin mobilizing the Bells to start a new work of disciple-making in and around Yakima Valley Community College. Please pray for financial support, clarity of vision, and perseverance necessary to continue this next phase of church planting in the Yakima valley. And stay tuned for more of their journey with us!
Finally, pray specifically for our financial situation. Just before the start of the year we were notified that the financial support that comes through the partnership of NAMB and our Northwest Baptist Convention has changed. The number of church plants in the northwest has more than doubled in the past year, but financial support is not available to meet all the church planting needs. Bottom line, the financial support our church plant was expecting to receive has been reduced by $8,000 in 2016. Please pray that God will raise up financial partners from other places who will help us get through the next couple of years of growth. God may move in many hearts to begin supporting us monthly, perhaps with as little as $15 per month. Check out http://theriverchurchmoxee.com/give for more information. God can use little to accomplish great things!
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-6, ESV)
Grace and Peace,
Michael and Cheryl Johnson