Love Makes Cents Update

LMC Logo Sweet Dreams

The official end to our Love Makes Cents campaign was last Sunday, and many kids brought in banks full of change and money.  We were astounded and blessed by the amount of money the kids raised this past month!  The total total so far will be revealed on Sunday morning, but, suffice it to say, the kids at Esperanza Viva will be VERY blessed by the kids of Heroes Gate!

If your child forgot to turn in his/her bank this past Sunday (or have additional money to add), we are still accepting LMC banks this coming Sunday.  So don’t forget to bring them in!

March Preview Pack

Here’s a look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate in the month of March:

March 1: Toddlers through 4th graders will discover how Jesus gave us a great example of how we can talk to God with the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Club 56 kids will discuss the question: How can I follow God even when pressure against me is strong?

March 8: Toddlers through 4th graders will hear the miraculous story of Blind Bartimaeus’ encounter with Jesus (Mark 10:46-52). Club 56 kids will dig deep as they talk about why and how does God want us to overcome our fears.

March 15: Toddlers through 4th graders will be encouraged as they learn that Jesus loves kids and always makes time for them (Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17). Club 56 kids will also be encouraged as they discuss the topic: How can I live a fearless life?

March 22: Toddlers through 4th graders will be amazed as Jesus raises his friend Lazarus back to life (John 11:1-46). Club 56 kids will begin a new unit called “Uprising” with its first week looking at “Revolt against Religion.”

March 29: Toddlers through 4th graders will celebrate as they learn about Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19). Club 56 kids will continue their unit, “Uprising,” by looking at the purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross and “Dying for the Cause.”

Love Makes Cents Ends This Sunday!

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Several weeks ago in Heroes Gate and Club 56, children were challenged to raise money to help peers living in youth homes in Mexico receive bedding supplies through our yearly Love Makes Cents campaign.  While to us this may not seem like an important focal point for raising funds, the value is driven by two reasons.  First, we work with Esperanza Viva youth and staff to determine how our efforts can directly effect the residents.  Second, we seek to find a way to connect the need to the everyday things we take for granted in Minnesota.  This way, we hope to give children an opportunity to see the world beyond their day-to-day experiences and develop a compassion for others around the world.

Esperanza Viva has two youth homes that provide more than a place to live.  Children experience loving adults, an education, skill-building, and opportunities beyond what would have been available to them before their arrival. This holistic ministry provides an environment where kids can flourish, heal, and be equipped to have healthy relationships as well as the ability to be productive citizens.

Esperanza Viva is part of a larger ministry called Living Hope.  The founders, Jerry and Susy McNally, have been connected to Woodland Hills Church for many years as a partner ministry.  This organization values mission teams to support and enhance their work.  Our church has sent many teams there over the years, including our youth ministry who has often sent teams to serve during the summer.

Love Makes Cents has been a Heroes Gate learning element for almost a decade, and we continue to be amazed at the generosity and compassion of the children.  They find a way to fill their banks and meet the financial goal every time.  They’ve provided for kids in Haiti, Mexico, and Rwanda and these gifts continue to enhance each of those ministries.

We encourage you to discuss why giving is an important part of our role as followers of Christ with your children: Our generosity stems from the selfless love and endless provision of Christ, and we are blessed when we give just as much as those who receive it.

Ways to help kids learn more about Esperenza Viva Youth Homes:

  • Visit their website and look at the pictures posted there:  http://lovehopemercy.org/esperanza-viva-youth-homes.html
  • Using a map of North America, locate Puebla, Mexico, and the town you live in.  Have kids measure the distance between using their arm or hand or older kids can figure out the miles with the map’s legend.
  • As kids get into bed, remind them of how their gift will provide the same comfort for a child far away.  Then pray for the recipients to feel God’s love whenever they climb into bed.
  • Share about the ways you give, why you give, and who receives it.
  • Come up with a plan to help your children consistently give and determine who will receive their gifts. Perhaps a jar or bank with a picture of the recipient ministry on the outside could be placed somewhere in your home for spare change and donations throughout the year.

Love Makes Cents ends this weekend, so remember to bring in LMC banks this Sunday, February 22nd!

Blueprint vs Warfare: A World of Difference

Our Heroes Gate staff and volunteers were blessed and honored to have Jessica Kelley speak at our Mid-Winter Training at the end of January.  Jessica shared with us how she came to set aside a “Blueprint Worldview” of God and came, instead, to believe firmly in a “Warfare Worldview.”  We asked her to write a post for our blog giving a brief summary of what she talked about at the training with our volunteers and the insights she had for helping them work with kids who may be experiencing tragedy or hardship.  Though written with volunteers and ministry in mind, the principles and ideas she lays out can easily be translated into family life and friendships.

By Jessica Kelley

Recently I had the privilege of speaking with the Heroes Gate Volunteers regarding God’s role in suffering. This subject is especially meaningful to me as a survivor of child loss, and it’s a topic I enjoy researching, writing, and occasionally speaking about.

Our training began with a discussion about the monumental suffering transpiring throughout the world. We noted that the typical Christian response to pain is filtered through the blueprint worldview. The blueprint worldview is the belief that God planned or specifically pre-approved every event that humanity would experience from the foundations of time. This would mean that both good things and evil things are part of God’s mysterious, divine plan to glorify himself. We’ve all heard blueprint thinking in clichés like, “Everything happens for a reason,” or “It’s all part of God’s plan.”

Perhaps the biggest problem with the blueprint worldview is that it pollutes our picture of God. It portrays an all-controlling God whose character is mysterious and whose plan seems arbitrary. It renders God as the designer of, or complicit in, specific horrors ranging from individual kidnappings to the Holocaust. And this begs the question: If this is God, and God is love, what does love even mean?

We then turned our attention to the warfare worldview. The warfare worldview asserts that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that his purpose in creation was to expand his love. This desire involved risk, however, because God wanted a bride, not a robot. It was necessary for God to offer his creation the irrevocable (no-take-backs!) freedom to choose love or reject love. Because God is all-knowing, he would have perfectly anticipated the possibility that love would be rejected. Yet due to his unlimited intelligence and creativity, God could be confident that even if love was rejected, he possessed the wisdom to ultimately bring all things under his loving lordship. It was a hope-filled risk.

A quick scan around the world today confirms that love is often rejected. Disease, oppression, violence – these don’t reflect the blueprint of a loving God. In fact, Jesus consistently battled against such things while identifying Satan as the “ruler of this world,” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). The good news is that God will have the ultimate victory, but for now when we encounter radical suffering we can echo Jesus’ words in Matthew 13 and proclaim, “An enemy did this.”

How does the warfare worldview impact the way Heroes Gate volunteers respond to hurting children? Let’s say a child comes in and confides that her mother’s cancer has suddenly returned. Below are three phrases to avoid and three suggested responses.
Instead of: “God knows what he’s doing” or “It was meant to be.”

Perhaps offer: “God knows how to meet you in this pain to bring comfort.”

Instead of: “God’s ways are sometimes mysterious.”

Perhaps offer: “We know God’s heart, Jesus perfectly revealed it. God loves you deeply and is hurting with you. And yet we can be confident in God’s creativity, wisdom, and desire to work with us to bring good out of this.”

Instead of: “We can trust that this is God’s plan/timing/will.”

Perhaps offer: “We can trust the heart of God, and know that he wouldn’t want this for you. You’re not being punished, and it’s not your fault. And while God wouldn’t desire for you to suffer this way, he’s always had a plan in place just in case this happened and he knows how to bring the most good out of it.”
If you have questions, comments, or would simply like to learn more about our family’s story, please visit http://jessicakelley.com.

Love Makes Cents: Sweet Dreams

LMC Logo Sweet Dreams

Every year in February, Heroes Gate encourages its kids to donate and raise money toward our Love Makes Cents initiative. This yearly campaign focuses on helping kids in need around the world. In the past, we’ve partnered with various ministry organizations including COFHED in Haiti and Nibakure Children’s Village in Rwanda. We’ve been blessed and excited to see kids participate wholeheartedly and give generously over the years as we’ve raised money for necessities such as school supplies, seeds and equipment for a community garden, materials for a bridge to allow kids safe travels to and from school, and even solar panels to provide much-needed electricity in a remote area.

This year, we’re honored to be partnering with Esperanza Viva Children’s Home in Puebla, Mexico. Donations to this year’s Love Makes Cents will go toward providing the kids at Esperanza Viva with new bedding, pillows, and other bedtime necessities. That’s why our name for this year’s Love Makes Cents drive is Sweet Dreams. After all, sleep is important for everyone, especially kids, and with so many of the kids at Esperanza Viva coming from rough backgrounds, we want to do what we can to help them snuggle in at night and get a good night’s rest.

Kids in Elementary received cardboard banks in which to put their donations over the month of February, and Preschoolers had the option to grab a bank, as well, on their way through the hallways this past Sunday. Banks will be availbe this coming Sunday, as well, for those who were unable to grab them on Sunday. We’re asking for banks and other donations to be returned by Sunday, February 22nd.

For more information about Espernaza Viva, you can visit their website at: http://www.lovehopemercy.org.

For more information about Love Makes Cents, contact Patrick Showers at pshowers@whchurch.org.

Thanks for helping us provide “Sweet Dreams” to the kids of Esperanza Viva!