Christmas is Here

Christmas mangerChristian greetings in Jesus Name!

I can’t believe that we will be celebrating Christmas once again. Time went by quickly! Pretty soon, all of us will be busy thinking about the coming holidays. For students, it would mean going for a short vacation from school, whether at home or somewhere else; those who work in the market place are looking forward for some rest from work to be able to spend time with their families; the children are excited about the fun time that they will have during the holidays and the gifts that they will receive from friends and loved ones.

The MEANS families of volunteers will be busy again this Christmas, packing love boxes for our ministry partners working among under resourced communities. Christmas is one time of the year, where people would like to give generously to those in need, including us?
As you think of gift giving this Christmas, may I humbly request that you consider some of MEANS project initiatives?

These past four years, MEANS have been working hard to obey the challenge of God to His people in Micah 6:8 “He has shown you O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To ACT justly and to LOVE mercy and to WALK humbly with your God.”

CHRISTMASThis year, our help has intensified with the aftermath of typhoons Haiyan and Ruby. At present, we have continued to help those who have survived the horrific typhoon. In addition to the projects that we are already doing for the past years, we have added new disaster project initiatives to continue to help those who are still suffering because of Haiyan and most recent Ruby Typhoon.
Again, we are appealing to your generosity to help us in these projects. I have attached a list for you to consider which ones are closest to your hearts. Please pray about it and let the Lord guide you in your decision.

christmasThank you very much for your help. This Christmas, let us remember Jesus, who has given to us the greatest gift of all: Himself! “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2nd Corinthians 8: 9

In His partnership,

Lina Padilla , MEANS Board Chair

Stacie’s Story ~The Blessing of Soccer~

Stacie is a daughter of Bethel Skinker, MEANS volunteer. She will play soccer for the next four years at Calvin College.

Here is her story.

When I think about soccer I remember the first time I laced up my own pair of cleats and joined my best friends out on the pitch. I remember the excitement of scoring my first goals as a little girl, the cheers erupting from the crowd. I remember the satisfaction I felt after finally beating an opponent with a step-over move. As I look back on old photos, the joy soccer brought me as a kid was apparent by the jubilant expressions on my face.

Soccer has positively shaped me into the person I am today in innumerable and invaluable ways. I know friendship because of soccer. I know sacrifice because of soccer. I know mentorship because of soccer. I know the blessing of soccer.

Growing up as a rambunctious little girl, soccer began as a way to expend some energy. My parents would drop me off at practice in the infamous soccer mom van and I would join several other girls with similar amounts of energy. We learned, we thrived, and we grew together in our love for the game. This common bond sparked immediate friendships. As we won together, cheered together, lost together, cried together, I was able to experience true friendship at its finest. Soccer has given me the opportunity to bond with a vast amount of people from all backgrounds — people I never would have had the chance to meet or get to know otherwise.

Soccer has taught me sacrifice. My most used phrase throughout my youth soccer career was undoubtedly, “I can’t–I have soccer.” It wasn’t always easy missing school events and turning down social events for soccer, but when I stepped off that field a better player, as I placed a new medal around my neck, every extra drop of sweat, and every extra hour of practice was suddenly worth it. There’s a famous quote that goes, “sacrifice is being willing to give up something good for something better.” Without soccer I would not have been able to personally experience the truth in that saying. In life, when I’m ready to give into immediate desires, I will remember the satisfaction that comes from working hard and sacrificing good things, for greater things. I now know it’s worth it.

Displaying talents for everyone to see automatically opens up a field of opportunities. Younger athletes look up to you, amazed at your superior size, speed, and skills. From the stands they watch in utmost fascination. You’re a role model in their eyes. Soccer allows you to make a difference in younger athletes’ lives, both on and off the field. Last December I visited some family in the Philippines. One day we stopped at a local orphanage and spent the whole day with orphaned children. When the kids saw that I had a soccer ball with me, they overflowed with excitement. In the front yard of the orphanage we played soccer–hours and hours of soccer. I taught each kid how to properly kick the ball, I taught them how to head the ball, and I witnessed the smiles on their faces as they realized that someone had just spent time and energy on them, something they so seldom experienced beforehand. Soccer provided a common interest through which we were able to connect and it gave me the opportunity to make an impact in those kids’ lives. It was as much of a blessing for me as it was for the kids.

Throughout my youth career, soccer has helped me as an individual by teaching me the values of friendship, sacrifice, and mentorship while broadening my eyes to the cultures and backgrounds of different people soccer has the power to bring together.

Stacie Skinker

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PASSION OF CHRIST

image“Three days: …let these three days challenge you to think deeply about the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Don’t rush into Easter….We must experience deep pain as in the pain of birth pangs, in order to experience the joy of Easter. These 3 days are: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday – the vigil of Resurrection conquest.

The first day, Maundy Thursday – this is the night Jesus was betrayed; Jesus met with His disciples to celebrate Passover and gave the command, the Mandatum, that we should love one another. Not necessarily with the love of our desiring, but with a demanding love, even demeaning love – as in washing the feet of faithless friends who will run away and leave you naked to your enemies, the betrayal and denial of friends.

The second day, Good Friday. Stay awhile; be quiet; let your heart be broken by the unspeakably bad of this Friday we call good. The life of all on this day died. Jesus, the Son of God, was forsaken by all – even God the Father…to be crucified. He died a painful, horrible and violent death from the sinners’ hands: US. We were there with the soldiers crucifying him, mocking him because we did not understand that it was for our sins that He died, for our sins that God forsook Him, for our sins, so that He may forgive us through and by His death.. Forgiveness has a cost: death. If forgiveness doesn’t have a cost, then sin does not matter at all. God’s GRACE is not cheap. We are all guilty….and yet we put the sin and the guilt on God, by shouting: “Crucify Him.” And yet, in God’s wisdom, in reality, as Jesus hung on the Cross, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.” “For our sake, he made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God. He forgave us not by ignoring our trespasses but by assuming our trespasses.

The 3rd day is the vigil of the Resurrection. Have you ever experienced emptiness in your life right after a loved one’s burial and you go home to find that your loved one is no longer there? This should be our experience on Saturday….the sense of feeling empty and lost because someone whom we loved dearly is gone. Tears should flow slowly from our eyes…and prayers should be uttered to strengthen our hearts for the loss.

We should fully experience the sadness and pain of these 3 days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Saturday…to be able in the truest sense of the word, experience the JOY of the RESURRECTION morning and to say, ” Jesus is risen from the dead! He is risen, indeed!

Contributed by Lina PADILLA