This summer my wife and I had the great fortune of travelling through the Indian Himalayas. Completely cut off six months of the year from the rest of the world, India’s Ladakh province is a high altitude desert that borders Tibet, and shares much of its geography and culture. Jagged peaks shadow arid river valleys. Prayer flags hum in the wind from monasteries on rocky pedestals. The landscapes are immense, serene, and alien.
As a parishioner of St. Elizabeth’s in Tecumseh, I feel the need to reach out. I guess not only as a parishioner, but a human. Our Priest asked my husband and me if we would assist with the Baptism program at our parish, to help polish and reconnect it. We wholeheartedly jumped at the chance not knowing exactly what was in store, but then again, does anyone ever really know what’s in store? We sat thru a few meetings of content change and program design and began working with our Deacon and his wife to help the families of our parish bring their children to our faith. During this time, it’s been over 5 years, we have met many families, shared in their triumphs, joys and sorrows.
It was the summer of transition between my Junior and Senior years of high school. I wanted to do something in the world that I could claim responsibility for, with pride and honor. My friend Conor and I had decided that we would sign up with a global medical-care giving group and travel down to Nicaragua for ten days. We were both aware of the economic hardships found in Central America, but no amount of research of literature or pictures, could have prepared us for the world that we met.
St. John Vianney recently had one of its members, a 2 year old girl by the name of Noelia Hurtado, get diagnosed with a brainstem tumor. Noelia was getting treatment at St. Jude’s Hospital and her expenses were mounting. Our children’s Religious Education director youth ministry decided to try and develop a means to raise money for the family. It was decided to have a Trivia Night and try and raise as much money as possible to give the family some relief.
Last November, a group of adults and teens from Sts Peter and Paul Catholic church-Beaver traveled to a special needs orphanage in Vokhma, Russia. The remote orphanage with minimal resources but a very committed staff serves about 86 special needs children. The orphanage teachers and staff equip the special needs children, up to 16 years of age, with life skills. The goal is to train the children in skills that will enable them to make a living once they graduate. They brought supplies to assist the orphanage and the local hospital in their mission to assist the underprivileged.
Imagine living on the streets, hungry and confused. Every day people walk by, averting their eyes and giving you a wide berth on the sidewalk. The world is a hard and uncaring place.
Almost 25 years ago this plight moved St. Paul’s youth to action. Mentored by our youth worker, our young people initiated a program to prepare and serve meals to women in a homeless shelter on North Broad Street. The youth cooked dinners after school and then delivered them. The program was much more than just a food service: the emphasis was to provide an experience just as if these women were guests in someone’s home. Fresh produce, nutritious ingredients, family recipes and care went into each dinner. The youth gave these women an immeasurable dose of Christian compassion–praying and singing hymns together and bringing Christ’s love where it was both needed and appreciated.
Six years ago one woman in our parish solicited the help of two others and initiated the project of making prayer blankets to comfort the sick people of the parish. They agreed on the design of the prayer blanket: (one yard by one yard) and bought some material that could be matched front and back.
They then solicited help from the parish for others to sew the blankets. A number of parishioners volunteered to help and they began to make these prayer blankets. When the Prayer Blanket Group was formed (about one dozen women) It was agreed by all that they would pray every day for the recipients of the prayer blankets.
It’s unlike any Baptist-produced Easter video you’ve ever seen, and it’s gotten more than 600,000 views on YouTube — and lots of positive feedback from around the world.
This high-energy music video called “Dance Your Shoes Off,” and shows 2,000 members of Second Baptist Church in Houston dancing and worshipping to a song about Christ’s resurrection. With the Houston skyline in the background and with hundreds of curious people watching, the members move their arms, legs and feet to the choreographed dance steps that took about a month to learn. At the end of the five-minute video, the dancers point to the sky, and then walk off the field without their tennis shoes, and all the shoes — brand new — were collected and donated to those in need throughout the city of Houston.
An inspiring story has the power to motivate ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We recognize that you and your peers are inspiring individuals, families and entire communities through ministry.
Whether it’s leading a person to Christ, helping a family get through difficult times or bringing communion to the sick, these actions build community and make the world a better place. We’re asking you to share the inspirational work you, your church, or your peers have done so we can highlight your success stories and encourage other people to follow in your footsteps. In return, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win an iPad 2, or $600 to support your church or a non-profit organization of your choice! Also, if your story is selected, we’ll share it with the over 1,400 churches we work with. This is our small way of recognizing the extraordinary work you’re doing.