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“Elishea's Story”
by Tom Goodman
August 11, 2005

God is changing lives through our members.  I want you to read a wonderful e-mail from Elishea Smith.  I have her permission to share this with you.  It’s about her work with her “THEMs” and how this year’s VBS helped her in this outreach.  Read and rejoice:

Dear Ministry Staff,
Just wanted to share a story about my Thems.  I have been praying for Ron, Cheryl and Ronnie Clements since the beginning of last school year when we first met in Mrs. Farmer's Kindergarten class.  Ronnie has special needs and needed a special friend—my gentle warmhearted son Isaac met that need for Ronnie and came along side him to be his friend when others just thought him odd.  In the process helping other's in his class to understand Ronnie.
Cheryl and Ron along with Mrs. Farmer and other Mom's and Dad's from the class rallied around Ronnie and decided he wouldn't fall thru the crack.  Of course over the school year and now the summer the families included in this process have become very close.  Ronnie has come a long way in being able to be in a crowd and to even participate.
Okay long story short—Ronnie coming to VBS and participating and then standing on stage for the Parent night without even being close to Isaac was huge!
I would have normally been helping with the children but had not gotten myself re-signed up to help after VBS got moved to 5 Sunday nights.  So I was available to invite Cheryl to come with me to Herb's class.  She had the best time, she was excited to come every evening and I of course had fun as well.  We got to know each other better and have gained a new level of trust in our relationship.  So if the new structure of VBS only touched the life of my friend Cheryl and her son Ronnie, to me it was worth it!  They could not have attended if it was daytime Monday thru Friday.  Another answer to prayer was Ron attending the Parent service.
The story doesn't end there.  Last night the families got together to celebrate Cheryl's birthday.  Her husband Ron mentioned to me that my Pastor called him and that he seemed to be really nice.  I just nodded and said, "yes he is" and went on visiting with everyone.  Then Ron comes back to the subject again and said I'm going to kick him next time I see him—of course he's trying to get my attention back.  He tells me about Pastor telling him to kick him and introduce himself next time he's at church and goes on to tell the whole story of Pastor asking if he's right-handed or left-handed—he thought you were funny and enjoyed your visit on the phone.  He asked some other questions about the church and I told him he should just come and try it one Sunday morning.  Pastor look out because you might be getting kicked.
We have been very careful not to push Ron and have not guilted him for not attending Sunday evenings with Cheryl—he's come to his own decision that he might like to come.  Cheryl was already wanting to attend another class with me in the evening from the Institute so we got to talking and I mentioned the Extraordinary Marriage class that the Pastor and Diane will be teaching.  Ron immediately chimed in, “that would be great for me and Cheryl.”  I told him I was going to sign them up and that David and I would attend with them.  Please reserve us two spots and I'm going to email the other couples in my neighborhood and see if they might want to attend with us as well.
It's obvious in my conversations with them that Ron and Cheryl have had bad experiences with Church in the past, especially Ron.  Please pray that they will feel welcomed and not judged.  They have many hurts—they need the Lord!
Sorry my story got so long—but I just wanted to share how you have touched my life and the life of my neighbors and introduce you to a new family that just might become a part of our church family.
Thanks for all you do!  You are a blessing!
Isn’t that a great note?  Actually, the guy who called Ron was Gene, not me.  As I told Elishea, I got the credit for the call, but that means I’ll get the kick, too!

In the immediate weeks, you’re going to have a lot of opportunities to invite your THEMs to Hillcrest Events.  Keep up the good work—it’s not in vain!


Snapshots of Service.  From time to time, you will see a feature in the Sunday bulletin called “Snapshots of Service.”  These “snapshots” will let you know about the ways our members serve and how you can help.  We’ve already featured our work with the Soup Kitchen, and this Sunday you can read about our Caring Friends ministry to homebound seniors.

Identity: Who Are You?  As a Hillcrest leader, plan now to attend all five sessions of our spiritual growth conference August 14-17 (10:45 a.m. Sunday morning, and then 7:00 p.m. each night Monday through Wednesday).  Tierce Green returns to Hillcrest with his excellent music and excellent messages.  We’ll focus on who we are in Christ. Remember:  You have to make time for spiritual renewal because you’ll never have time.  So carve out time for this important back-to-school event!

Discipleship Fair.  Sunday night, August 21, in the MPC.  We want to introduce you our first set of classes in the Hillcrest Institute of Lifelong Learning (“The H.I.L.L.”).  Come meet the teachers, thumb through the workbooks, and register for a class.  Most classes have limited enrollment, so don’t miss your chance to enroll!

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