Friday Focus

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Prior to July 2017, our newsletter was named Your NFC. All the archived issues remain available, as you can see down the right-hand column!

Your NFC – November 22, 2013

Click HERE to read the entire November 22, 2013 issue.

For this round of pastor reports, we’ve chosen a “holiday” theme. What are we thankful for? And, like in Advent as we wait for God’s salvation and deliverance, what are we longing for God to do? 

 — Eric Muhr, youth ministries

Back when I taught high school English, I had lots of students who read books the same way they listened to music. They moved to the beat without paying much attention to the lyrics. Most of the time, I wanted more for them. I wanted my students to think about structure, to consider cultural context, to learn to identify the message underneath (and sometimes behind) the story. But not always. Some books should be danced to, not lived. For instance, Lord of the Rings.

Don’t get me wrong. I love this series. The journey together. The risk of the unknown. The battle between good and evil. The inner struggle of genuine selfhood, of discovery, of decision, of discernment. But there are other messages—cultural tropes—that have power to do real harm. And so I find myself relieved—and thankful in this season of thanksgiving—that NFC doesn’t have a Lord of the Rings-style youth ministry.

We don’t have spiritual gurus. There is no Gandalf, no “greatest spirit” among us. Instead, there is a community of youth ministers, people like Steve Sherwood, Sandra Fish, Michael Fawver, and Anna Lee in high school Sunday school. People like Nancy Fawver, Rich Brown, Sarah Kelley, Julie Anderson, Josh Reid, and Elaine Koskela in middle school Sunday school. People like Alan and Michelle Akins, Shealtiel Hart, Brogan Groth, Brodea Stanclift, and Anna Thomas in Bible quizzing. People like the youth themselves, who often teach us (and who sometimes teach each other).

We don’t have “one ring to rule them all.” There is no artifact—like a building or a creed or even the Bible—that rules us. Instead, we are a community of believers, seeking Christ together, discovering together what it means to be part of God’s family. It’s hard work that sometimes results in hurt feelings and real suffering. But it’s also work that helps each of us to grow up in Christian maturity, to experience freedom in Christ, to learn how community is something that strengthens us as individuals (not just the other way around).

Finally, we’re anything but a no-girls-allowed adventure. We are a community in which both young men and young women find a voice and a place of ministry in the church. We are a community that this summer sent Samuel Swan to minister in downtown Portland, Hayley Koskela and Brynn Akins to work in an orphanage in Uganda, Naivit Velazquez to volunteer with children at Camp Tilikum, Ezekiel Stone to help lead recreation at Twin Rocks Tween Camp, Matthew Staples as a member of the Servant Leadership Program at Twin Rocks Friends Camp, Micah Stoltzfus and Tristan Kern to help plan this year’s Surfside high school camp. And that’s just a few examples. From just one summer.

Looking back on where we’ve been over the years gives me a real sense of accomplishment. Looking forward to where we might still go together gives me hope. But it’s this community that we’re becoming together—who we are and who we’re becoming in Christ—for which I’m thankful. Because it’s no Lord of the Rings-style epic adventure. It’s something better.


— Michelle Akins, children and family ministries

This fall I’ve made a conscious effort to shift from groaning to gratitude. Those who have been around me in my less than “ready for prime time” moments know I excel in whining and audible expressions of displeasure (the deep sigh being my signature sound). What I mean by groaning is a focus on lack. Too often I look at the volunteer calendar for Sunday school and my eyes and heart see only the “volunteer needed” spots I’ve highlighted to attract attention. It’s worked all too well on my soul. I stare at needs instead of provision. I concentrate on where we fall short instead of spending time in praise for the people, relationships, and good works already in progress. And at times, it’s made me sick. It’s skewed my perspective and presented a false picture of the beauty that happens here at NFC every Sunday morning. Beauty happens. Grace, mercy, teaching, love, conversation, play, and hope happen. It happens in classes that are fully staffed and those that are struggling to find another teacher or two. God shows up in our lack and still provides holy experiences for kids and adults at NFC. Experiences that matter. Could we do better? Of course! As we celebrate Thanksgiving, then slide into Advent, I choose gratitude. I’m very grateful for the beautiful intergenerational worship that happens here at NFC in our children’s ministry. I choose to look with eyes that long for more but reflect gratitude for the gifts already given.


— Gregg Koskela, lead pastor

Coming back to work after sabbatical has been an exercise in thankfulness! I’m so grateful for several people and families who made our church their home while I was out this summer. I heard several variations of: “We’ve been coming a month or two and really like this community!” I’m thankful for Cara Copeland, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Mareesa Fawver, Joseph Hampton, Mat Hollen, Kara Maurer, Polly Peterson, Paul Shelton, Elizabeth and Steve Sherwood, and Deana VandenHoek. These great people have given much time and creative effort to planning and leading our five o’clock gathering. I’m thankful for the ways Beth LaForce and Ron Stansell share their responsibility as clerks of our elders. I’m grateful for our stewards, who care deeply about our church, yet do not overreact to hard news. Instead, this group has a high degree of trust in God and faith in our church family that the resources our church needs to do ministry will be provided. I’m encouraged and blessed and challenged by the many examples at Friendsview of people who demonstrate thankfulness to God. Jim Clark and Alice Hines are just the two most recent examples.

What am I consistently placing at Jesus’ feet? What am I longing for God to do? I’m praying for someone to give leadership to our Global Outreach task force. I love the vision this group developed, to help each person in our church develop a meaningful relationship with an overseas partner; we now need someone to clerk the task force and continue that important work. Related to that, I’m praying for a whole new task force, a group that can help celebrate what our church is already doing in Local Outreach and to challenge us to go deeper.

I’m longing for God to increase connections and relationships between people in our church. Some have lots of good connections, while others still feel a bit isolated. I’m praying for new structures (new small groups? activities? something else?) to develop, and I’m praying for informal connections to happen, all prompted as we each follow what simple steps of obedience God puts on our minds and hearts.

But most of all, I am very grateful to be a part of this community called Newberg Friends Church.


— Cindy Johnson, ministry to seniors

As I ponder this Thanksgiving season, I feel grateful for so many things in my area of ministry: Just Older Youth. I get to do such a variety of things with them—pray, listen, laugh, hugs, or just sit and be still. And I get to help plan little trips for those who can’t get out very often.

Yet I long for more people from our community to feel a nudge to fellowship and be blessed by words of wisdom shared by our congregation’s older ones. It’s a win/win combination.


— Steve Fawver, spiritual health and care

This fall one of the gifts in my life is the opportunity to journey with some folks as we are reading the book Sacred Compass, by Brent Bill. This book has opened discussion, fostered worship, encouraged prayers, and produced wrestling for those in the group. How can we pay attention to God and follow the Spirit or “compass” in our lives? One of the sections that spoke to many of us was the following:

“The sacred compass leads each of us to the life only we can live. Our compass calls us to use the gifts only we can give. In a grace-filled way, our compass invites us into a life of continuous experiences of God and of spiritual transformation. As we move toward divine guidance, we joyfully behold the face of a loving God gazing back at us.” (Sacred Compass, p. xiv)

It is amazing to hear from folks as they share about times the way seemed clear and open as well as times of darkness and feelings of being lost. We have been discovering that God never leaves us on our own, but there are times when the path seems to disappear right before our feet. I am so grateful for a community of faith where it is OK to admit that journeying with God is not always a walk in the park, and yet, even so, God is faithful. My hope is that we can continue to find ways to be people who come alongside one another in both the times of celebration and the times of loss. How might you offer a hand of support to someone who is really struggling to see God in the middle of a dark time of life? How might you sit quietly with a friend, or even a stranger, as he or she is at a loss for words? My hope is that the NFC community can continue to be a place of honesty where we are willing to watch for God together while the sun shines brightly as well as when the fog rolls in.


— Elizabeth Sherwood, administrative pastor

It is so easy at this time of year to have a list of things for which I am thankful. There has been a flurry of activity with the various committees I get to be a part of, and I am grateful for the many folks who give of their time and energy to serve behind the scenes.

• The nominating committee has been busy listening, praying, and discerning who in our congregation might have the gifts and interests to serve as a Yearly Meeting representative or a steward.

• Trustees have been overseeing the progress on the lift and other major repairs.

• Stewards are keeping careful tabs on our budget and are doing the good work of communicating with the congregation regarding our needs.

• The cemetery committee has worked to welcome our new sexton, Mark Thompson, and has tackled projects such as a new fence for the wood ministry.

• The Yearly Meeting representatives have been charged with the task of leading our congregation through a discernment time regarding Faith and Practice. This group is leaning into that process with prayer and integrity.

I am personally energized to work with such quality people who embrace business as a form of worship and who acknowledge that in all tasks we can be led by the Holy Spirit. I look forward to these winter months to see how the good work of these committees continues to unfold and enrich our community.

Click HERE to read the entire November 22, 2013 issue.

Your NFC – November 15, 2013

Click HERE to read the entire November 15, 2013 issue.

by Theresa Breithaupt

by Theresa Breithaupt

Since beginning my journey of seeking and following Jesus I have learned and continue to learn. Daily I wonder and reflect on the unreasonable blessings I have been given, as well as feel the resulting weight of responsibility upon me. I feel inadequate, clumsy, not full of wisdom—yet. Is that going to happen someday?

Parenting our sweet son through a partnership called marriage has been among these great gifts. I am blessed to share this role with a man who absolutely loves kids and has eagerly awaited parenting since long before he knew me. In March 2012, his dream was realized. Chris connects with this tiny person in ways that are intuitive and beautiful, finding delight in the small and big things, an outpouring of Chris’s own relationship with our creator.

Amidst the toy explosions, the 3 a.m. tears, the messes, and the mountains of laundry (whose idea were the cloth diapers?), I fall deeper in love with our son, my husband, and in turn Jesus, the giver of these. I ask myself, What have I done to deserve these gifts? and quickly realize—nothing. Thus they are gifts of grace. But more often an inaudible voice of desperation in me cries, How can I hold onto these? Keep these? Protect these? Dare I even say hoard these? It is ugly to speak those fears, and yet I know the sometimes scary and echoing response in my soul is—I cannot. They are not mine to hold onto, keep, or hoard, and I am powerless in the big scheme of things. I long to guard these I love from things that will wreak havoc on the harmony we now experience. We have walked through enough seemingly insurmountable hurts and hardships to know we are not immune. And so I cling to the truth that I serve a God who is able to do exceedingly and immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). And he has. I choose to trust him even in my fears.

image copyAs the years go by and I process where I’ve come from and where I’m going as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and many more roles, I ponder what God is doing with my life. Where do my choices and actions fall on his scale? How are the simple things I do and don’t do echoing in eternity, causing ripples in the lives with which I collide? Are my passions and dreams worth following? At times I fully believe these things are uniquely me, placed in me for the purpose of fulfilling a need in this world. I long to live in that freedom and understanding. With age I hope to shed more inhibitions that keep me from pursuing my dreams, which perhaps would be one of the most intrinsic ways in which I can honor and serve my creator, God.

Today I will continue to move forward with what is before me. Many of my days include the tasks of a stay-at-home mom: dishes, cleaning, shopping, those laundry piles I mentioned, and best of all—playing. Intermittently I fit in a great hike, a date with my man, time to dabble on my fiddle and guitar learning, a cup of coffee with a friend, or an hour of solitude. In these quiet spaces I ponder the bigger dreams of how to incorporate into each day my passions and love for people from cultures unlike my own. When might I again find the time and mental capacity to pour into pottery and other creative endeavors? How can I love my family better, more deeply or delve into authentic, meaningful community with those around us? I pray that in time I can make ways to weave these into what exists in my days already. Here’s to looking ahead with hope!

Theresa Breithaupt has been a follower of Jesus for 13 years. She grew up in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse with a BS degree, majoring in art and international studies. She and Chris will gladly show off their wonderful son Haven, 1½ years, some Sunday morning. They reside in Newberg after moving back from a grand Alaskan adventure about a year ago. Some of her hobbies include knitting, cooking, and walking.

Click HERE to read the entire November 15, 2013 issue.

Your NFC – November 8, 2013

Click HERE to read the entire November 8, 2013 issue.

by Linda Byrd

by Linda Byrd

Recipe with Global Impact

Prepare with countless hours of prayerful planning. Mix together 40-60 campers ages 9-13, three to five missionaries-in-residence, 10 to 12 volunteer counselors with a heart for missions, and a team of energetic support staff. Stir in generous helpings of thematic programming, innovative activities focused on articulating one’s faith, sharing the gospel, and prayer. Combine with heaping tablespoons of creativity, team building, initiative, problem solving, and leadership development. Add hearts full of enthusiasm for reaching the world with the good news of the gospel. Blend in plenty of humor and hard work. Allow time for God to soften hearts. Simmer for five days as the Holy Spirit leads. Keeps forever. Serves countless people around the world.

The above “generic” recipe provides a general overview of Kid Missions Camp. Each year a different theme spices up the focus of challenging campers as we explore an unreached people group, world religion, or people at risk. The results are never the same as the combination of campers, staff, missionaries, and guests changes every year. But a broader worldview, greater understanding of God’s heart for the world, and sensitivity to his call to “go and tell” are guaranteed regardless of the mix.

prayer for refugees

prayer for refugees

Kids Missions Camp began 13 years ago with the vision of Doug Hazen, Northwest regional director of WorldVenture, a missions organization celebrating 70 years of serving as a catalyst for global gospel movements. Doug knew that many current missionaries were children when they first responded to God’s call to serve abroad. He was also aware that a generation of long-term missionaries was reaching retirement age. “Who will be the missionaries of the 2020s and beyond?”, he asked. “How are we equipping the children of today for a very different world of missions than previous generations?”

When God connected me with Doug at Mission ConneXion (Portland’s annual missions conference) nearly three years ago, I didn’t know he was going to have to give up Kids Missions Camp or that many people were praying this wouldn’t happen. Doug didn’t know someone with a calling and passion for kids, missions, and camp was open to whatever God had in store. You could say it was a recipe he’d been planning all along.

A professional camp perspective has added some new dynamics to the mix of Kids Missions Camp. We’ve articulated our philosophy and are seeking God’s direction as we develop a ministry plan. We’re transitioning to the name of WorldVenture Camps, moving to Tilikum’s Northridge site, and planning a weekend Family Missions Camp for summer 2014. I am trusting God to increase my “larder” of support funds and welcome partners whose hearts have been stirred to keep the provisions stocked. Our vision is to take the recipe and ingredients for these programs beyond the Northwest and ultimately around the world. We already have invitations to Jordan, Italy, Mexico, and Bangladesh.

refugee rations

refugee rations

God has cooked up some exciting results with Kids Missions Camp alumni over the years. Some have pursued missions as their college major. Others have served overseas as teachers and missionaries-in-training. Chazz coordinates WorldVenture’s Journey Corp program for post high school—young adults who want to explore how God might use them in missions. Lauren and Leslie returned home and started their own non-profit ministry at the ages of 13 and 14. Six years later Hope2Others is operating in 34 states.

Why should we believe in Jesus?

Why should we believe in Jesus?

Hannah’s journey is one story that’s been brewing for a while. In the three years I’ve known Hannah, her call to missions has continued to grow. Our theme in 2012 was Refugee Life. This year we explored how we are chosen to help spread the gospel (2 Peter 2:9) and how to share the good news with God’s chosen people. Toward the end of camp, Hannah stated she thinks she wants to work with refugees. She then asked, “Are there any Jewish refugees?” I couldn’t help but smile as I responded, “all over the world.” It will be exciting to see what God’s recipe for her life will yield in the future. How is God stirring your heart to fulfill his mission?

Doug and I will be sharing more about WorldVenture Camps on Sunday, November 17. Join us at 12:15 in the social hall for food, fellowship, games, crafts, and more.

Learn more about Mission ConneXion—January 17-18, 2014, by clicking here.

Click HERE to read the entire November 8, 2013 issue.

Your NFC – November 1, 2013

Click HERE to read the entire November 1, 2013 issue.

by Mauri Macy worship ministries

by Mauri Macy
worship ministries

“AM Prep” is an occasional column in Your NFC that leans ahead to the coming worship gatherings—or sometimes remembers previous times of waiting together in God’s presence. These words may do a little of both.

It’s almost always good to remember. In our “preacher’s kid” days, my brother, Howard, and I were regularly asked this Sunday-dinner question, “What did you get out of the sermon today?” Um… But these days I enjoy hearing someone reflect on or remember something from one of our gatherings—maybe a song lyric or a take-away from the teaching or a helpful word spoken or heard in our waiting together.

One of the memorable (to me) song phrases from last Sunday describes Jesus as the “light in my darkness, the truth in each circumstance” (from “Hope of the Nations” by Brian Doerksen). Humming along in my brain, this phrase remains a good prompt to welcome Jesus into the moments/circumstances of each day. Maybe you have a remembering from last Sunday as well? Um…

In the spirit of “it’s not what you get out of it, but what you bring to it,”  years-ago NFC youth pastor Keith Vincent wrote about “Sabbath preparation”—about leaning into our gatherings for worship in specific ways. It could be you’ve already been thinking about some of the things he suggests—indulging in a little quiet, making active/intentional worship a regular habit, limiting Saturday evening distractions (TV/the small-screen stuff…how hard can that be?), and praying/listening in advance. And, no small number of us look ahead to the suggested reading assignment…for this Sunday, John 11:1-44 (the story of Lazarus).

We dont have a system for broadcasting the specific worship elements and practices for upcoming Sundays. So here’s a heads up—that we’re going to be singing (…yes) this Sunday. The men’s quartet is leading (with NFC Brass), and one of the tunes we’ll sing is from the early American harp singing tradition, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” Here’s the first verse:

I know that my Redeemer lives! Glory, hallelujah!

What comfort this sweet sentence gives. Glory, hallelujah!

Shout on, pray on we’re gaining ground. Glory, hallelujah!

The dead’s alive and the lost is found. Glory, hallelujah!

You can see the tune and learn more at this link.

So to lean a little further ahead, let’s be reminded that God’s intention and promise for our life together and our life with him is…transformation—the longings God has placed within each one will be fulfilled.

Let’s be encouraged with these words from scripture.

“For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him…should become like his Son, so that his Son would be the First, with many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29

 “Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s  children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when he comes we will be like him, as a result of seeing him as he really is.” 1 John 3:2

Oh, yes!

Click HERE to read the entire November 1, 2013 issue.

Your NFC – October 25, 2013

Click HERE to read the entire October 25, 2013 issue.

Ministry Happens…Behind the Scenes

by Sherry Macy

You might be one of the many unseen volunteers who faithfully enrich our NFC community. Every so often we want to make a few of you (at a time) more seen, even though you clearly do not ask for this attention. It’s simply a way of expressing appreciation and letting others know what happens “behind the scenes.”

For example, do you know how many years Jerry Carr has distributed then gathered all of the Sunday school attendance folders and entered the information into a notebook? Since the late 1960s. That’s a lot of Sundays! He and Yvonne spend their winters in Arizona now, but when they’re in Newberg, Jerry is back at his post and on the job.

Speaking of attendance, have you ever noticed Derrol Hockett, Karen Angus, Barb Mann (first service), Larry Haverman, Hub Mardock, or Clyde Thomas (second service) unobtrusively walking through the back of the sanctuary/balcony just before the message? They are counting heads (normally one per person) for our attendance records, required for yearly meeting statistics. Most of the aforenamed head counters are part of the team, which also includes John Hampton and Kasey Fish, who prepare the offering to be counted.

Speaking of the offering, our head ushers—Larry Haverman, Hub Mardock, Gary Brown, Derrol Hockett—faithfully recruit a team to stand at the back of the sanctuary, ready to pass the plates each Sunday morning.

Speaking of the sanctuary, you might be interested to know that Lisa Nauman (along with Elli and Nate when they’re not in school) checks for events on the church calendar each week to assess when it will be most efficient to do her volunteer assignment of “refreshing” the sanctuary. She does a thorough sweep through all the pews to remove left-behind worship sheets, crumpled tissues, and paper airplanes and replenishes community cards, offering envelopes, and pens. She finishes with an often-rainy walk to the recycle bin. Then we don’t want to leave out Dave Woolsey, who takes it upon himself to walk the pew rows between services to make things presentable for those just arriving.

Speaking of just arriving, if you come through the same entrance every Sunday morning, you’ve become well acquainted with the one (or ones) who greets you at the door. But greeters stand at each entrance, ready to offer a “good morning” and hold the door open. These faithful ones include: Mark Martin, Sam and Dorothy Farmer, Maribeth Hampton, Terri Bowen, June and Gary Brown. You might be handed a worship sheet by Sharon Hubbell, Charles or Jean Hanson, or Ann Howe.

While we’re focusing on what happens in the sanctuary, we want to acknowledge those in the role of mic carrier during open worship on Sunday mornings: Mark Thompson, Gary Brown, Gary and Carol Hankins. And there’s a short list of trained sound technicians, but these are the ones currently on the rotation for Sunday morning services, overseen by Alan Akins: Les Comfort, Paul Worden, and Alan (of course). I wasn’t asked to include this, but since this article is about volunteers, I’ll volunteer this appeal for tech-minded individuals to step forward to become part of the NFC audio technicians guild. It would bring great joy to Alan’s heart to be able to broaden the Sunday-morning rotation. You could then become part of our mighty list of un- or mostly unseen volunteers who make things hum around NFC.

Click HERE to read the entire October 25, 2013 issue.

Your NFC – October 18, 2013

Click HERE to read the entire October 18, 2013 issue.

by Linda Sartwell

by Linda Sartwell

It had been a long day, and evening had finally come. The room was dimly lit from the lights at the nurse’s station in the hallway, and I rested on the cot in the pediatric hospital room, where Elissa slept soundly.

Elissa had seen many doctors and hospital rooms since she was born with a rare birth defect called cystic hygroma —lymph and blood-filled cysts in her tongue, cheek, and throat area. The first doctors to examine her had never seen it, much less treated it.

After many doctor visits and two surgeries, she had grown to a happy 4-year-old but now had nephritis in the kidney and was sent to the Cleveland clinic for a biopsy. On this night I was awakened by “The Nurse.”

She whispered, “Are you Mrs. Sartwell?”

Startled, I said, “Yes, why…is Elissa OK?”

“Oh, I’m not her nurse, but I heard there was a child here that had cystic hygroma—and I knew I just had to come and see you. You see, I was born with cystic hygroma, and I am 38 and a registered nurse. I just wanted to tell you there is life with this condition, and the doctors are learning so much more about it.”

Wow! What you don’t know—and what that nurse did not know—is that many times I would say “If she could just live to be 5; if she could just live to be 8,” and here was a nurse who was 38! Sometimes I wonder if “The Nurse” was an angel, but I know for real she was a nurse in the night who brought this mother hope and encouragement. She could not stay long; but she had delivered her message; she had been an “intentional encourager.”

A few weeks ago, Elissa called and said a strange thing happened to her. She told me she was part of a Facebook group of people all around the world who have cystic hygroma. A mother posted that her young daughter was being called “Fat Face” at school and was very discouraged. The mother did not know how to help her daughter and wondered if there was another who might be able to give them some encouragement or help from their own experience.

Elissa said to me, “Yeah, I know what that’s like.” I had not realized she had been called names. I knew people had asked us if she needed a root canal or if she had the mumps, but I did not know she had been called names.     (cont’d)

She continued to tell me, “Yes, there were some on the playground that called her “Fat Face”. But she decided to stay inside during recess and help the teacher or study more or practice her math facts. She decided she would become “smart” and then she would be known as the smart girl and not Fat Face. And it worked. When she won the spelling bee or the math facts, her classmates saw her as smart rather than Fat Face.

So Elissa e-mailed the mother on Facebook and introduced herself as a professor at SBU in Bolivar, telling her she would love to talk with her daughter. She told me she wanted to challenge this girl to find something she really likes to do and become very good at it. She will then be known for that and not by the appearance of her face.

In the coming months, Elissa—who, by the way, just turned 38—is going to be “The Nurse”—an intentional encourager. She is going to provide hope for the mother and share with this precious child how she herself handled the name calling and became known for who she was—not what she looked like.

I’m sure there are people all around us for whom we could be “The Nurse.” Let our ears and eyes be open as we follow God’s nudges in being an intentional encourager to those who need some healing words.

Linda Sartwell and her husband, Dick, are parents of two daughters and grandparents of one sweet granddaughter. Linda oversees the mail operations at George Fox University. She is also a charter member of NFC Bells.

Click HERE to read the entire October 18, 2013 issue.

Your NFC – October 11, 2013

Click HERE to read the entire October 11, 2013 issue.

by Donna Kreutz

by Donna Kreutz

This week, in our house in a Mexican town in SE Oaxaca State, my desk calendar is open to a photo of a cedar waxwing on a branch in front of its nest that holds four wide-open beaks, pleading for food. I’ve been looking at this snapshot from a bird’s life this week and wondering: Which mouth is he or she going to feed? Which one did it feed last? Since they all act hungry every time the parent arrives with food, how do the parent birds keep track of which one’s turn it is? All four baby birds appear to be the same size, so although it may seem from the open beaks that the little things never experience the pleasure of satisfied tummies, they are obviously growing, each one getting what it needs. Isn’t it amazing the “gifts” God gave this cedar waxwing to keep all of its young ones fed and growing, as well as to the little ones to respond by pleading for food each time the parent arrives? But, if any of the little ones would not open its beak to receive from its parent, it would not be fed, and would grow weak and die.

We are spending this month “in the village” while John and our lay pastor friend work toward completing the book of Romans in the Zapotec language of this town. Meanwhile, now that all four Gospels are among the New Testament books that have been completed and approved for publication, I have been working through them in Zapotec, checking punctuation and spellings of problematic words (some words vary significantly, depending upon the preference of the speaker) and trying to identify complex sentences that should perhaps be rewritten a bit for easier reading.

As part of my work on the Gospels, I’ve been reading through the Gospel of John in Zapotec with the mother of a teenager. They have had an absent husband and father since the teen was little, and the mother, whom I will call Maria, has had to find ways to support her child, along with help from her parents. Since it is hard for women in the village to find steady work, unless they have the resources to run a small store in their home, Maria has spent long periods of time working far from home, sending money to her parents for expenses. A couple of years ago, with the child having entered teen years and not being cooperative at home or school, the grandparents told Maria she needed to come back in order to provide parental guidance. I think Maria sees that this is a better place for her to be—spiritually and in other ways.

About a year ago, Maria came to us, somewhat as a baby bird eager to receive a morsel of food, seeking work. I believe she came not only for income but to be involved in work that would feed her spirit. Though we are not able to employ her in the translation ministry to the extent she would like, we have given her various types of checking projects, which have helped supplement her income, along with other part-time work she finds to do. So she has been able to avoid seeking work far away during this crucial time in her teen’s life.
As we have read through John this week, Maria reads aloud and I follow along in my copy, marking where she stumbles on either the spelling of a word or other complexities. For her, this is the first time to read straight through a book of the Bible aloud in Zapotec. She reads smoothly and with understanding, and often it is easy to see that what she reads from Jesus’ life and teachings touches her heart. Yesterday she picked up the book of John and said: “Do you have more of these? People here need to read this. It should be read in church because many people don’t understand scripture that is read in Spanish. It is clear in Zapotec!”

Along with the picture of the cedar waxwing with its hungry young, observing Maria reading John has given me a mental picture of our village friends, seeking with open hearts as the baby waxwings do with open beaks, to receive from their heavenly Father. They receive the scriptures more easily through their own language, and it has a greater impact on their lives.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Thank you, NFC, for all you’ve done through the years to help us minister in this community, so they too may be “filled” by means of God’s word in their own language. Thank you for your prayers for us as we get close to completing the New Testament in G. Zapotec. We face many details and challenges at this stage, but it is a blessing to see hearts open to receive from God and to see how scripture in Zapotec speaks clearly to them.

John and Donna Kreutz serve as linguist-translators with Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL, Int’l. They met in Mexico City in 1983 and were married at NFC in July 1984. They have two married daughters and are proud grandparents of 5-month-old Janelle, who was born in Ecuador. Donna has been a member of NFC since 1971.

Click HERE to read the entire October 11, 2013 issue.

Your NFC – October 4, 2013

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by Gregg Koskela lead pastor

by Gregg Koskela
lead pastor

Thank you!

That’s really all this article is going to say, so if you’re short on time, you can skip ahead to the other things. I am just thankful and grateful for this community called Newberg Friends Church.

Thank you for the ways you have shaped me. I started attending as a college freshman and experienced the nearness of God in ways I hadn’t before. Some of you (and some who have already ended their time here on this earth) mentored me by example. As a brand new pastor at age 25, you trusted me with your kids and let me try to learn how to speak. You were patient with me when I came here, way over my head, at 34 to be lead pastor. You have let me walk with some of you through painful and holy moments. You have shown me the love of Jesus.

Thank you for allowing me the freedom of a sabbatical this summer. There were many days that I was here in Newberg, and you let me be Gregg when you saw me, without any expectations of the role of pastor.

Thank you to every one of you on the staff. I know (from what you’ve told me) of many ways you did extra things because I was gone. I even know some of the things you did that you haven’t told me, ways you went above and beyond to serve because you love our church and you love the people here. It’s a gift to work alongside people who love Jesus and love this church and offer your many gifts, talents, and skills.

The biggest unexpected gift of my time away happened in the last two weeks before I came back. I realized I really missed the people of our church! I don’t come back out of duty or with a sense of dread—I come back with joy to the people and community I most want to journey with, following the Holy Spirit to do as God leads in our town and our world. May we do just that, with love and joy and freedom and passion.

Thank you!

Click HERE to read the entire October 4, 2013 issue.

Your NFC – September 27, 2013

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by Liz Wood

by Liz Wood

I’ve always been involved in music, from childhood church cantatas to high school marching band and choir to college concert band. As a child, I played handbells at my church in Tigard. We were a rag-tag group, playing here and there for special occasions and such. When I discovered I could earn college credit by ringing at George Fox,
I jumped at the chance.

After graduation, we were eating lunch at NFC with Mauri and Sherry Macy when someone mentioned needing ringers for the bell choir. BINGO! I found my spot.

Fast forward 15 years (!) and I am still happily ringing with NFC Bells.

Sometimes the drive from Tigard is tiresome, especially the 7 a.m. Sunday call times. But these are my peeps, and I love my bell friends.

We gather each Monday evening (during the school year) to rehearse, laugh, eat, and pray. We share our happy moments and our hard moments. Our ages and life experiences vary, but we’re a tight group that cares deeply for one another.

Wanting to share the fun, I’ve recruited my sister and mother, along with several Tigard High students throughout the years. Mom calls me an evangelist, always wanting to get everyone involved with my favorite things! (Anyone want to join us? We’re always looking for ringers!)

110430_sunday3I enjoy the musical outlet, something that’s harder to come by as an adult. I enjoy the challenge and chance to grow as a musician. I enjoy brightening people’s days and enhancing their worship experience through our playing. I enjoy the friendships I have with people I might not have otherwise met. I enjoy inviting my family and friends to come listen to the bells play. I enjoy sharing an older, traditional music style with my church family. I enjoy harassing our director when he handwrites music we can’t read.

Christmas Eve is my favorite. We prepare for weeks and weeks, hoping to perfect a long list of songs both fun and reverent. On that one evening, we have three chances to share our musical gift and offering with others celebrating Christ’s birth. Between each service, when we’re not helping lead the larger group, we celebrate with each other with our private musician Christmas party. It’s a special night.

I hope listening to our bells brings you as much joy as we get in preparing music for you!

Click HERE to read the entire September 27, 2013 issue.