Category: Embrace The World Stories

2016 Middle School Mission Trip to Tampa

Tampa was a great experience for our students! Many of them had not interacted too much with people of different socioeconomic backgrounds and of different belief systems. Tampa is a very liberal area, and the students were amazed at how so many people did not care about God or want to talk about him. Some of the people our students encountered were even hostile to the gospel of Jesus. Nonetheless, our students continued to share the gospel with others in spite of their fears and apprehensions.

On Sunday we took the students to a local city park where they were holding the VegFest. This was a festival for vegans, vegetarians, animal rights activists, and pet adoption agencies. None of these things are necessarily bad, but the majority of people at this event were very liberal and even anti-Christian. Our students handed out fliers for a brand new church that started in this community only 6 months ago. Monday morning the pastor of this little church let me know they had 2 visitors from the VegFest and one of them gave their life to Christ!  Praise God that he used our students to make a difference for eternity!

Take a moment and view this video review of the weekend!

MSMTAMPA from Fruit Cove Youth Leaders on Vimeo.

Beach Baptism 2016

On Sunday, July 31, we gathered at Mickler’s Landing to celebrate baptism at the beach. 28 people had prepared to enter the water in testimony to their faith in Christ and one additional lady who saw us assemble chose to do the same. Here’s a video of the event and some photos to help you celebrate the joy with us!

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Response to the Orlando Shooting

On June 12, our nation was once again stunned by violence inflicted on a portion of our population (at present, 50 dead and 53 wounded) in what is now being called “the worst mass shooting in the history of America.” This time the shooting took place at a nightclub in Orlando, specifically a gay club. The shooter, now among the dead, was claimed by ISIS to be “a soldier” of their organization.

Response has been all over the board, of course, with the political “hot buttons” involved in this event. Some politicians fear to blame radical Islamists for the shooter. Others look with disdain because of the sexual orientation of the victims. Still others are advocating that Mateen (the shooter) was actually mentally ill.

At this point none of that is of utmost importance. Labeling, posturing, politically assigning this event is crass at best. Let’s take the gray off the table and call this what it really is: an unvarnished illustration of the methods and outcome of spiritual darkness. A tragedy of epic proportion for the families of the victims and a loss of eternal proportions for so many who went into the club never to emerge again and instead found themselves facing eternal destinations.

A piece of America died in Orlando, the “happiest city in America.” We are once again blood-splattered and emotionally jarred by the nearness of violence to our heartland and homes. As an American, I hope this event moves us toward securing our nation. As a believer and follower of the Lamb of God, I find myself on this sad morning after wrestling with these thoughts.

1) How should the church respond? Not Orlando-area churches – our church? What should this cause us to do and how do we redouble our efforts to push back the darkness that has overwhelmingly found its way into the heart of our state? Will we share Jesus with more diligence? What if someone had gotten to Mateen before this happened and led him to Christ? Obviously he was lost and searching and thought he found his answer in a man-made religion. Perhaps we thought someone else would do it.

2) We cannot allow this event to further widen the gulf between God’s love for Muslim people, our responsibility to share the Gospel with them and our growing fear and disdain of those who follow this religion. Our churches, our mission board must be tasked to redouble our efforts to reach lost people wherever they are… and whatever their religious persuasion may be. The Great Commission does not have “exempt” clauses. We go everywhere… to all nations… to everyone.

3) We must allow this horrific event to underscore again how dark, how demonic, how devastating sin really is. We are not playing with an enemy that cannot bite and devour us. The devil is a “roaring lion,” seeking whom he may devour. Sunday morning, he devoured fifty people. Will this wake us out of our slumber?

4) We must remember that “our warfare is not with flesh and blood, but with principalities, with powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this age.” We cannot defeat this enemy with better guns and more bombs and soldiers. While our war with terror has a military dimension, the ultimate enemy that must be overcome cannot be shot with a weapon.

5) If fear rules, the battle is over. And we lost.

Hold your family closer tonight. Pray for God’s safe keeping for our nation. Pray NOW for the person who is considering doing the same thing somewhere else… here or around the world. Thank God we are not planning a funeral today.

Almighty, saving and all-wise Father, we come to You in this moment again of our despair and helplessness, reaching out to You… the only One who can help. We cannot fight an unseen enemy in our own strength or with our own devices. We need your help first, to guard and keep us safe but most of all to make us dangerous… dangerous to an enemy who has come into our very country, city and homes to “steal, kill and destroy.” And we pray you will use us to make this violence come to an end.

Father, we pray for grieving hearts and souls who lost loved ones in this latest act of terrorism. Some have called it “senseless” but it makes perfect sense to the one who’s agenda is to kill and destroy. Please help us know how to combat this enemy who has come to steal from us and leave fear in his wake. Please do not let him win.

We know that your Word tells us that in the latter days terrible times will come. They have arrived. And we believe that our redemption is drawing nigh. But as we await the return of Christ to this broken world, help us to know how to live… how to walk… how to be representatives of the coming King. We will not cower and retreat with fear.

And help us not to succumb to bitterness and anger. We know that the wrath of man does not accomplish the will of God. But as our Savior did, so must we pray, “Father, forgive.” And may we not retreat in our efforts to take the Gospel to the nations… even those occupied by Islam… but redouble our commitment to the task of bringing the world to salvation in Jesus.

Lord, help us. We live in a confused, broken, sin-saturated world. Help us to live in it wisely. In those places where it has been necessary for us to send armed services and troops keep them safe today and always. And bring them home soon, we pray. Bless our first responders – police, fire, rescue and medical workers – as their jobs become increasingly more dangerous and difficult.

And in all of this, help us to keep our eyes on You, Lord.

Through the Name Above Every Name, the Name of Jesus we pray.

150 Million Orphans

The Bible has much to say about adoption. 1 John 3 tells us to “see what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” Ephesians 1:5 says “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:15 says “you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, Abba Father.” WE HAVE BEEN ADOPTED AS SONS AND DAUGHTER INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD. How then as Christ Followers could we not be about the same kind of ministry? If God has adopted us because of what Jesus did, we have an opportunity to do the same for others. To adopt children into our families that they may also know Jesus, and hear the gospel must be the aim of the church and a part of every Christian’s life. I have heard many say one of the greatest tools we have to share the gospel is through adoption.

The Bible also has much to say about orphans, one such verse is James 1:27. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Christ Followers have a Biblical obligation to do something about the amount of orphans in the world today. Now let me blow your mind and break your heart at the same time. Based on a simple google search there are roughly 150 MILLION ORPHANS IN THE WORLD TODAY. That’s millions, as in ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION. Allow me to help you fathom this number.

  • World Population = 7.125 Billion;
  • US population = 318.9 million;
  • Florida = 19.8 million;
  • Jacksonville, FL = 842,000;
  • Everbank Stadium capacity = 67,164;
  • and finally, Fruit Cove, FL = 16,000

Over 150 million orphans are ridiculous! Jesus made it very clear that he loves children. In Mark 9:36-37 Jesus talks about not overlooking the lowly child, but in our world today orphans have become the most marginalized people group. This happens because the church ignores the problem. The Christian believes, “that’s not for me.” As Christ Followers we must respond by adopting. This means taking care of the orphans and bringing them into our homes to hear the gospel. Many countries see adoption as a way to make money. And more than that, these orphans have no voice. A report by CNN in 2014 concluded that international adoptions are in decline. So as the number of orphans grow daily in our world, the number of international adoptions are declining.
~Ways you can respond to 150 million orphans…

  • Pray about how God wants you to be involved.
  • Come along side those feeling the call to adopt. Support and encourage them, help them financially, babysit, take meals, pray, etc..
  • Be a foster parent or house parent; volunteer your time and energy at Florida Baptist Children’s homes.
  • Get involved with a CHRISTIAN adoption agency, be a part of fund raisers, etc…
  • Bring awareness to your church, Sunday school class, small group, etc..
  • Adopt!

 

On the Bus to Silute

I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2 (HCSB)

It was late in the afternoon and the sun was beginning to make it’s journey down toward the horizon as the bus left the outskirts of Vilnius, Lithuania. I was just beginning the 5 hour, 200 mile journey across the breadth of the country to the western city of Silute.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had finished a two day consultation with IMB personnel in Vilnius. The next stop was with a team in Silute who had “re”-planted a church in a building that had originally been used as a church before the Soviet Era. During those years, the state had confiscated the building, used it as a warehouse and later carved it up into small apartments. Now, with the freedom that had come to Lithuania in the late 1990’s the building again housed a small congregation and I was on my way to encourage them in their faithfulness.

My host had taken me to the main transportation terminal, purchased my ticket and prepared to load me on the bus. “See that man?” he asked. “He’s your driver. After about two and one-half hours, the bus will stop. He will get off for a break. You are safe to get off as well. But, when he gets back on the bus, you need to be on the bus, because he’s leaving.” I memorized his appearance and the clothes he was wearing.

My next question was “How will I know I have arrived in Silute?” My host laughed. “It’s the end of the line. He’ll turn the motor off. Oh, and it will be about 11 o’clock tonight if you’re on time, so it will be dark.”

“And, then what happens?” I asked. “Your host in Silute will meet you at the station. You’ll recognize him.”

That conversation played over and over again in my mind as we rolled out of town. I looked around the bus and realized I was, without a doubt, the only American on the bus. Most likely, I was the only English speaker. My wife and children were in Prague and had no real idea where I was at that moment.

I found myself chuckling out loud and almost without thinking began to pray: “God, ain’t nobody on your green earth but You that knows where I am right now… And, I just need to say, I’m OK with that.” And, with that said, I put my head back on the seat and went to sleep.

This is the last of 31 daily devotions on prayer written by our ministry staff team. Tomorrow, a new journey will begin. But, before we go, what has God taught you through prayer? Have you moved beyond the repetitious and routine? Are you persisting even if it seems He’s not answering? Maybe, you’re more aware of needs in your family or circle of friends. Perhaps, He has called you to pray for big things – beyond what you can imagine. For missions. For His Glory! If any of these are true of you, we are greatly encouraged.

Regardless of where you are today, I’d like to leave you with this thought: “You are not alone. You have never been loved any more than you are right now. And nothing will change that.” No matter where you go, no matter who surrounds you, God knows where you are. And you can rest, knowing that He cares deeply for you.

Pray a prayer of praise with the psalmist and affirm, I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2 (HCSB)

Thank You from C2Church

C2ChurchThe Christ Centered Church in Miami, FL continues to effectively reach it’s community. Fruit Cove has had the privilege of supporting C2Church financially and with people. Last May, our College Students traveled to Miami and served C2 through evangelism and community outreach.

Last week, we received an update and thank you from Pastor Derek Allen. Take a few minutes to read the C2Church Thank You Letter and rejoice in the great things God is doing in Miami!

Aubrey Thompson’s Testimony to God’s Love

On October 16, 2013, Aubrey Thompson was critically injured in an automobile accident. His story and the way God worked to bring healing to him touched our community in an incredible way. Soon, his story had encircled the world as people prayed and interceded on his behalf. In this video, Aubrey and his family tell his story – a testimony to God’s love, healing power and grace in each of their lives.

Aubrey Thompson from Fruit Cove Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Cuba 2015

In March of this year, a team from Fruit Cove invested their spring break serving in Cuba. Take a look at their report and testimony on renovations at camp and encouragement to brothers and sisters in churches in Central Cuba.

Would God have you serve in Cuba? Other teams from across Florida will be going to Cuba this year and we’re already making plans for 2016. Want to know more? Click here and ask!

Cuba Mission Trip 2015 from Fruit Cove Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Guatemala 2014

Last fall, a team from Fruit Cove took a vision trip to Guatemala to explore opportunities for ministry and missions there. Here’s their story:

Our missions team is working on details for a return to Guatemala this fall. We invite you to pray about joining us in October. More details on this trip will be released soon!

Guatemala V3 from Fruit Cove Baptist Church on Vimeo.

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