First Baptism, New Missional Community

Greetings from The River, Moxee!

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every payer 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.

Another month has flown by! The leaves are changing but summer is hanging on for all its worth as we’re still experiencing warm, sunny days. The high today was 84 degrees! Praise God for some extra love from the weather.

It has been such a delight to watch God work in the month of September. We have continued to enjoy gathering every Sunday at the local community center. We are so grateful God has provided that space for us but are constantly on the lookout for a bigger space. On Sundays when all of our “regular attenders” are there, it’s obvious there isn’t much room to grow. Please be praying for a bigger space or that we would be able to expand into the rest of the room that is currently divided by a wall divider. We are seeking what God would have us do and appreciate your prayers.

A very special highlight of September was the celebration of The River Church’s first baptisms. Our daughter, Maddie, and another young man were baptized in a watering trough in Moxee Park. (The excellent weather came in real handy on that day!) Each of the children shared a short testimony and then were baptized by their dads. Afterward, we celebrated by sharing a meal and fellowshipping in the park. Once again, we had to thank God we live in a place and a country where we are allowed to live out our beliefs in such an open way. Praise God!

We continue to actively seek out ways to reach and bless our community. This month we hope to help at a special event held by the elementary school. Will you please pray that as we participate in these types of events in the community we will continue to meet people that are seeking God and fellowship through the church, even if they don’t know it! We are constantly seeking to invite people into community and are praying for open hearts and doors to the gospel.

As part of the plan to multiply disciples in Moxee, one of our families will be starting a missional community in their home next week. Please be praying for the Melones as they seek to invite their friends and neighbors to missional community. Please also pray for the Springs as they have committed themselves to that missional community and will also be seeking to invite friends and neighbors into that community.

It has been my privilege, as well as other ladies in our church, to continue reaching out to the girls at Sunrise House, an alternative foster care home. God is still growing those relationships with girls who desperately need the love of Jesus. Please pray for opportunities to share Christ with these young ladies and that their hearts would be open to the gospel of Christ.

All of this requires empowerment from the Holy Spirit. None of us will have the opportunities, boldness and obedience we need without the Holy Spirit. But with Him, we have an abundance of strength both to fulfill His call on each of us and to persevere for however long it takes to see God’s light prevail in Moxee and the greater Yakima Valley region. Please pray every time you think of us that we would walk only where the Holy Spirit has empowered us to go and that our faith would grow as He leads us.

Blessings on you all!

Michael and Cheryl Johnson

The River Church

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.