A Blessed 2015
Back in January, we introduced the “Best Year Ever” prayer, a prayer that we would all do together in order to see God continue to move, both in our individual lives and as a church body.
The prayer goes like this:
I pray that you would work in me that I might reflect you more.
I pray that you work for me that I may be blessed by you.
I pray that you work through me that I may be an instrument of your love and grace.
I give you permission to work in me, for me, and through me according to your purpose.
Working In Us
There’s no question God has been at work in the hearts of our community. A total of 48 people committed their lives to Christ and got baptized, 27 of whom got baptized at the river in August!
We also saw growing participation in worship. That doesn’t just mean we sang more: it means we opened our hearts and worshipped more freely and boldly.
“Our worship night this spring was a big turning point in our church. Seeing people growing in their worship this year has been huge. From the front of the church, I can see everyone, young and old, participating more. I’m so excited to see our growth in freedom of worship and expression.”
This year the worship team released their new song “Mercy,” an Easter song written by Ben and Laura. We celebrated at two worship nights, plus a women’s night in the fall, all of which provided awesome opportunities for us to meet God outside of our usual Sunday services.
We got to see growth in other ministries as well:
“The amount of people who have stepped up to engage in ministry has been amazing. 30 people visited the Next Steps table to figure out the next step to take in their relationship with Christ. Plus we saw lots of people accepting Christ at Ownership nights!”
“RLSM’s Youth Sunday and the two childcare events the youth did this year were great. Students stepped up to help out. Retreat this year was amazing and several students have actively sought to further their relationship with God since then. I have also seen a lot of growth in RLSM’s adult volunteers! They have stepped up and helped out in so many ways. It is great to see more and more as people take ownership in different areas of the church.”
“I still remember how amazing this year’s women’s retreat was. God touched so many lives and hearts at campfire night, and He was present beyond that weekend through the donations the participants brought for incarcerated women in Clark County. I set the schedule and work with the speakers, but it’s God who makes that retreat awesome every year.”
Also, our first Marriage Retreat had a fantastic turnout. We thought we’d have maybe 12 couples and instead we had 38 couples sign up! Lives improved and found purpose, marriages strengthened, and relationships evolved throughout 2015.
Working For Us
As a church, we were blessed financially this year. We are still moving towards expansion plans, but in the meantime, God has definitely been with us as we welcomed 300+ kids for VBX and 600+ for Neewollah into our space!
“I’m always amazed at the number of volunteers that we have at Real Life. Over 100 people helping at the VBX during a daytime event…so many churches have to hold their VBS at night to get enough volunteers and we have 1/3 of our church that take time off work and from their busy schedules to come and serve these VBX kids!”
We continue to see strong relationships with each other and with Christ in our Life Groups. Life Groups not only provide safe places to discuss faith and growth, but they’re also the first line of support for many Real Life families when physical and financial needs arise:
“Our Life Group helped us move from Gresham to Vancouver, and those who couldn’t help move came and brought a BBQ grill and the food, etc. to feed everyone helping us move!”
There may be times throughout the year when we’re not sure if an event or a service can be pulled off – there are troubles with the sound system, people get sick, etc. – but God always comes through for us, and we’re grateful to be able to continually provide an atmosphere where people can come and meet God.
Working Through Us
Our giving opportunities continue to grow as our partnerships with local school expand and reveal more and more need. Real Life has been more generous and had more impact in our community this year than ever before. You helped us fill 18 Thanksgiving boxes for local students, and 50 Welcome Boxes were filled after the kids participating in Advent Conspiracy Kidz Edition raised $1500. This Christmas, you helped us give away 20+ bags of food/baking supplies and 9 children’s coats!
In addition to supporting our school partnerships, you brought in several hundred pounds of supplies for orphanages in Ethiopia, delivered by Katie and Ben Bradley when they finally got to go pick up their daughter:
“We’ve been watching for five years and praying alongside the Bradleys for them getting Lily and now she is here!! Praise God!”
Even on short notice, your generosity comes through and never fails to reflect God’s generosity in our own lives. With only two Sundays to bring food in, you filled two big barrels for Share’s summer food support programs – twice what we expected! Our spring worship night provided a chance to worship through giving, and you responded by donating a carful of toiletries for Share.
“As awesome as it is to get more involved with meeting need in our community, it can also be a little heartbreaking at times because there’s just so much need and we could never hope to meet all of it. But we ‘do for one what we wish we could do for all,’ and following that model, we’re able to give abundantly. I think we’ve been able to give eight pairs of shoes this year! I’m so grateful to be part of a church that’s willing to give sacrificially to show Christ’s love to someone they may never meet.”
What a year it was! Thank you, God, for working in, for, and through us! We can’t wait to see what 2016 holds!