Sent into the World

by Chris DiVietro

What have we seen so far? In the Old Testament, the temple was the focal point of worship. As the people of God worshipped, the nations saw and were attracted in. In the New Testament, however, Jesus came to earth as the true and better temple. He literally “tabernacled” among humanity – He was sent to us, and so sends us out (John 20:21).

God’s people are therefore sent into the world, and in being sent can be considered missional or on mission. Being missional is at the very heart of our denomination’s identity.

The church’s mission flows from God’s mission—God did not make a mission for His church, God made a church for His mission. Mission arises from the heart of God himself, and is communicated from his heart to ours. Mission is the global outreach of the global people of a global God. The very being of the church is constituted in and through its participation in God’s mission in the world. The church is not an end in itself and mission is not optional.

It would be inaccurate to say the church must become missional. Rather, the church— when expressing its true identity—is considered a missional manifestation of God’s redemptive work in and through creation.

Mission is not to be primarily understood in functional terms: mission cannot be defined by the number of “missions” activities. Rather, mission must be understood as the fundamental nature and being of church—when rightly considered, the missional church is an authentic expression of the church’s true identity. Emil Brunner famously stated, “The church exists by mission as fire exists by burning.” Mission cannot be simply be reduced to strategies or programs.

The missional church is not just another phase of church life but a full expression of who the church is and what it is called to be and do. To be missional means to move beyond our church preferences and make decisions locally as well as globally for the sake of those not yet reached with the gospel.

Our concluding point, then, is this: To whom are you sent? What preferences are you willing to surrender for the sake of the gospel? How are you embodying the mission of God today?


Isn’t This What Heaven Will Be Like? Thinking Missionally

By Pam Bush

Recently I received a letter from a friend who ministers to Christian workers in closed Muslim countries. The work is very dangerous for the staff living in these countries. The organization they are associated with recently brought 650 workers to a western location for a conference for Biblical input, vision, training and refreshment.

MosqueMy friend (I’ll call him David) asked one of these missionaries what he thought of the conference and he responded, “Isn’t this what heaven will be like?” He went on to explain, “Didn’t Jesus say that he left to prepare a mansion for us where there would be no tears but joy, great feasting, constant praise and fellowship day after day? This week we are in heaven. Next week we return to hell!”

David writes: “It brought tears to my eyes. This may sound overly positive but you must understand the context for many of our local staff who live and minister in some of the most dangerous countries in the world. Some are regularly in danger. Five were killed last year. If their community or the government finds out they are Christ followers who share their faith and plant churches, they would be executed. Yes, they are in “heaven” for a week but are willing to return to their home countries to continue serving as witnesses for the Gospel of Jesus. One country represented saw 86 local villagers trust Christ this year including two imams (mosque elders). They are being discipled and house churches are being organized. ”

One of the church movements is led by a group of young local men who openly and proudly call themselves “Infidels for Christ”. What might the Lord call us his Church in Reading to do?
May we all be inspired by our brothers and sisters in dangerous settings who continue faithfully in serving the Risen Lord. He lives!


Our Season of Giving is Ongoing: Introducing the Stroman Fund

By Pam Bush, Mission Committee Secretary

In 1989 FPC members John and Patricia Caldwell established the Stroman Fund with an initial gift of $500,000 given to the glory of God and in honor of the ministry of Dr. Richard Stroman who pastored the congregation for over thirty years. The endowment’s earnings above the initial gift are to be used to support mission work above and beyond the church’s yearly mission budget. Over the years Dr. George Goodrich and Dr. Stroman’s widow, Joan, would discuss with the Mission Committee Chairman the distribution of the funds. Currently the Mission Committee, chaired by Elder Ron Scheese, makes the decisions about distribution. Since its inception the Stroman Fund has distributed nearly $1,000,000 to advance the Gospel worldwide. Here are some of the distributions for 2015:

Missions$1,285 to Worldlink Ministries International for Nepal Relief
Worldlink Ministries International, located in Audubon, PA, links western churches and individuals with indigenous missionaries for an increased spread of the Gospel through the work of the missionaries. Worldlink currently has 236 supported missionaries, most living on $25-$200 per month. There were five Worldlink Nepalese missionaries needing assistance after the April earthquake. The membership of First Presbyterian gave $1215, and with the addition from the Trust, a total gift of $2500 was given.

$2,500 for Bob Lehman’s cataract surgeries
Bob and Debbie Lehman are Wycliffe Bible Translators missionaries in Manila, Philippines. Bob is a teacher for the missionary children at Faith Academy. The Lehmans asked for assistance so that Bob’s eyesight could be restored. Both surgeries were successful.

$11,250 for expenses on furlough and return to Kiev for Eide Family
Jon and Tracy Eide serve with Mission to the World planting churches in Kiev, Ukraine, and have been there since 1996. They visited First Presbyterian in January 2015 while home on a one year furlough. They needed $14,500 in extra gifts, mostly for airfare, tuition for their children, and repairs to their Kiev home when they returned and found it in serious condition.

$5,000 for Brad and Lori
This couple serves with ZOE International in Asia. For security reasons we do not publish their surname or location. ZOE is a ministry that rescues children from sex slavery, ministers to their needs, prepares them for adulthood, and houses them until they are 18 years old. Brad was an undercover detective and Lori an office administrator before heading to Asia in 2014. Brad now heads up the team which rescues children, and Lori applies for grants from different sources to support the work of ZOE.

$6,000 for Leurbourg Orphanage, Practical Compassion
Practical Compassion, based in Lebanon, PA, pours 100% of its donations into a town, Ponte Sonde, in Haiti. Their staff serves as volunteers. They built and support 3 orphanages, 3 schools, six wells, and a medical clinic in the town. They needed to raise money to feed 200 orphans, some in later stages of malnutrition. The $6,000 supplies 6 months of food for the children. Practical Compassion raised a total of $18,000 for the children’s food supply.

$5,000 to Worldlink for the ministry needs of Frances & Melvina Bella, Central African Republic
Frances and Melvina Bella’s home was ransacked and burned down two years ago. Since then they have lived in a refugee camp in Bangui, Central African Republic where Pope Francis recently visited. Frances, a pastor, has developed a daily ministry in the camp, and together he and Melvina have seen many come to Christ as Savior and Lord. The money requested was used to provide further evangelistic tools to reach more of the refugees, many of whom are Muslims, with the Gospel.

$50,000 to Worldlink – Matching Funds Campaign
Worldlink President Jack Nelson asked First Presbyterian to be the matching donor for the ministry’s year-end matching gift campaign. We have committed to matching up to $25,000 in 2015, and an additional $25,000 at the start of 2016 if the ministry partners donate the total $50,000. This money will be used to stabilize the ministry while Worldlink’s Matching Gifts Team raises additional large gifts for the ministry in 2016. The goal is to have a total of 400 supported indigenous missionaries by December 31, 2016, and to assure the ministry is financially stable.

$25,000 to Kenya Orphanages The Very Rev. Bernard and Mrs. Eunice Muindi requested this gift for the continuing ministries at Tumaini Destitute Children’s Home and the Humura Handicapped Home in Nyeri, Kenya. Rev. Muindi has been a faithful and detailed correspondent for many years and we are thrilled to be able to assist him in this great need.

$15,000 to Hebron Zion Presbyterian Church, Johns Island, SC
Rev. Washington has been keeping us well-informed of the disbursement of yearly gifts and we are also delighted to support this greatly needed food ministry there on Johns Island.

$1,500 to Amanda Keeny Odessa, Ukraine
Amanda Keeny, a native Berks Countian, serves with The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) as a church planter in Odessa, Ukraine. Amanda is a new missionary and joined the team in Odessa in August 2015. The $1500 was to help with moving expenses to get her onto the field.

$2,000 to River of Hope Therapeutic Ministries
River of Hope is headquartered in Lebanon, PA with satellite offices in Berks and Lancaster Counties. This agency nurtures healthy relationships by providing hope and healing through preventative education and professional, Christ-centered therapy for all ages and life stages. FPC member Becky Hollenbach, who has her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, is on the staff of River of Hope.

$1,000 to Fireproof Ministries for support of David Domanski
FPC member David Domanski regularly participates in mission trips with Fireproof Ministries, which seeks to minister to those involved in the pornography industry, and those addicted to pornography. David, a 22-year old college student, is on the Missions Committee and is dedicated to seeing men and women set free from addiction to pornography, and new life in Jesus Christ.

$3,000 for City Light Ministries
City Light Ministries is a center-city shelter in Reading, PA that ministers to those no other shelter will help. It is a ministry of Spring Valley Church of God. In the past year the shelter needed extensive repairs in order to meet city codes inspection, and First Presbyterian joined many other local churches and businesses in providing the funding.


The 2015 Salvation Bell Ringing Experience

We had an exceptional response to the First Pres bell ringing efforts at Redner’s Market. Thank you everyone who participated!

Bob & Lynn

Bob & Lynn

Don & Lee

Don & Lee



Jim & Ginny

Jim & Ginny

Ron & Jose

Ron & Jose


Shop and Help Support Indigenous Missionaries through WORLDLINK

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AmazonSmile_Logo-no-backgroundThrough the “Amazon Smile” program Amazon will donate .05% of the price of your eligible purchases to Worldlink International Ministries whenever you shop on Amazon Smile. The Amazon Smile website is the same Amazon that you probably shop on already. Same prices, same products, same service. This is absolutely free to you. To support Worldlink while shopping at simply go to Log into your Amazon account (or open one). Your account is now linked to Amazon Smile and .05% of your purchases are donated to Worldlink to support indigenous missionaries. Bookmark the Amazon Smile page and you are set!

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First Presbyterian Church
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37 S. Fifth Street
Reading, PA 19602


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