Recent News

Meet the Missionaries: Chris and Amy Gesler

One of the best gifts God offers us is the chance to find purpose in life. Chris and Amy Gesler say they’ve found that, and are sharing that gift with people of all ages in Kampong Cham, Cambodia.

The Geslers help lead the Friendship School, a Xenos Global Partner, which was founded in 2009 by a group of Cambodian teachers and a team from Xenos. Its goal is to address educational, physical, and spiritual needs not only of its students, but their families and the broader community as well.

Chris Gesler says he went to church as a kid and received Christ as a middle-schooler, but found church to be boring. He reluctantly said yes to an invitation to visit a Xenos high school group, and found it engaging. He connected there, and began a faithful walk with God.

Amy says she was a rebellious teen, but heard about God’s love and grace in college. She received Christ then and was captivated by the thought that God had a purpose for her life.

Both say they did not have a sense of a call to missions as young believers, or as a married couple, but that started to develop as they heard from people who were heading out to the missions field. They took a short term missions trip together to Cambodia in 2001, and developed a burden for the people of Cambodia.

This burden turned into practical conversations about the possibility of becoming full time missionaries. When Xenos missions leaders announced plans to expand the Cambodian team the Geslers applied, and worked their way through the steps to join the team in 2004.

Blowout Camp Starts Soon

The summer camp season begins in about a week, starting with over 250 middle-schoolers heading to Camp Chautauqua for Blowout Camp.

The camp is June 2-6, with an extra day at the end for students entering the 8th grade. Campers will enjoy a week of fun activities, friendship building, and Bible study and discussion.

Brad DuFault with the Junior High Ministry says they have three goals for camp. “First and foremost, we hope to see students make big decisions for God, such as deciding to start a relationship with God, reach out to friends, serve in their small group, or simply take ownership of their walk with God.”

Brad says secondly, they want to see the students build deep, strong friendships with each other through their time at camp. And “thirdly, we want them to have a lot of fun so they learn that following God is exciting and not boring in the least.”

You can help make it a great week for the students--camp organizers ask you to pray for the camp. Here are some specific things to pray for:

  • For God to give the teachers a burden for what they’re sharing at camp.
  • For students giving their testimonies to be filled with confidence and excitement to share how God changed their lives
  • For those who do know Christ--that they will decide to follow Him at this camp.
  • For the students’ daily morning time in the Bible and prayer.
  • For post-teaching discussion groups--that students will process what they heard in the teachings and open up about their thoughts.
  • For a smoothly-run camp and unity among the camp staff, counselors and students. And for lots of fun for the students!

Study Center Re-opens at New Location

The Xenos Study Center has re-opened at its new location (620 Oakland Park, 43214) north of the Warehouse meeting space. There are still some small projects to finish up, but it's now open to serve the community.

The new location offers a fully staffed lending library, with materials and resources to enhance your Bible study and equip you for ministry and service.

Another feature of the space is several smaller rooms off the main room. Xenos Operations Coordinator Steve Bauer says they will be great places for folks to meet to study together, and get guidance on ministry. They can be used for spiritual mentoring and counseling. Steve says several groups regularly gather for prayer before Central Teachings held at the Warehouse, and this will be an ideal spot for them to meet.

He says the main room will also be available for small teachings and events at certain times. And, as with other Xenos facilities, these rooms will also be available for community groups to use.

Come check out the new space next week. It's located just east of the large Warehouse meeting space, and just north of the gym and parking area. And you can learn more about resources available at the Study Center at StudyCenter.xenos.org. With the new location is also a new phone number: 614-423-4145.

Renegade Prepares for Summer Camp

The Xenos Renegade ministry is getting ready for its annual camp, giving local low-income kids the chance to enjoy some of the best of summer—games, the arts, and getting to hear about God’s loving plan for their lives.

In the last year Renegade has sharpened its focus, now serving kids from kindergarten to 5th grade. Older students—middle and high-schoolers—are now served by Xenos junior high and high school ministries. Renegade Director Bob Fisher says this allows people with expertise in a given age group to focus on the unique needs and challenges of that age. The hope is the students will successfully engage with God as they transition from middle school to high school to college.

Bob says the annual camp for elementary kids is July 15-19, and they expect to serve 40-60 kids. He says it’s a great way to introduce kids to the Renegade program—to connect them with the regular on-going meetings in 3 different Columbus neighborhoods. The camp offers great summer activities, letting kids play musical instruments, make art, dance, and play games, in addition to the spiritual activities.

Effectively Helping People who are Grieving

By John Montgomery

There's an upcoming Xenos class starting this month to help you be more helpful when a friend is grieving. “Offering Support to the Grieving” starts Wednesday, May 29th, and runs four weeks.

The word “grief” has come to be understood mainly as a reaction to a death. But such a narrow understanding fails to encompass the range of human experiences that create and trigger grief.

Grief is triggered by a loss of some sort – losing someone or something with which we had an attachment. Grief has different levels and intensities. We grieve a little when our favorite tee shirt is ruined and must be thrown away. We grieve a little more when our favorite team loses the championship game. More intense grief comes when a beloved pet dies, when a valued friendship ends, when dreams for our future evaporate, or when someone we love dies.

As followers of Jesus, we are charged to walk alongside each other in our grief. We are called to mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:14) and to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). We are to encourage the timid and faint-hearted (1Thess. 5:14) and to be compassionate, gentle, and patient with each other (Eph. 4:2; 1 Pet. 3:8).

Promise Group Offers Hope to Loved Ones of Those with Addictions

By Rachel Yensel

Promise is a Christ-based support group for people who have loved ones battling addiction.  Promise serves people who have (or have had) relationships with a loved one who is an addict/alcoholic, abusive, absent, or physically or mentally impaired. These relationships can create significant and unresolved hurt, anger, fear, or anxiety. We meet every Saturday (see details below).

Most people (including myself) develop unhealthy emotional and behavioral tendencies when they try to cope with loving an addict. These types of unhealthy tendencies are known as being “codependent.” Codependency is often a way to try and fulfill the love and security we desperately desire, and it can manifest in many different ways (e.g., trying to fix, control or rescue people, trying to help people who may not even want help, etc.).

At Promise, we believe that a growing relationship with Jesus is the one, true thing that will fulfill our desire for love and security. We look to Him to reshape our thoughts, feelings, and actions through the lens of the Bible in order to learn how to have healthy relationships with others and with God. We come together at Promise to pray, encourage one another, share accountability, and grieve alongside one another. It's really an incredible thing to be in a room where you feel known and understood. Addiction is so isolating and stigmatized--there is so much power and healing that comes from living transparently.

Xenos Offering New Meetings for Older Adults

Next week will mark the first of a new series of one-hour programs called Pace-Setters. The series will cover topics relevant to empty-nesters and other older adults, appropriate for both Xenos members and guests.

The first meeting is Wednesday, April 17th, at 6:00 pm at the Main Campus Auditorium (1390 Community Park Dr., 43229). Gary DeLashmutt will speak on "Waxing Spiritually while Waning Physically."

Then there will be two other Pace-Setters meetings in the next few weeks. David DiPietro will teach on caring for friends or family members with terminal illness on April 24th. It will be in Room 209 at Main Campus at 6:00 pm. And on May 1st Jill Waterman will teach on "Understanding & Making the Most of Hospice," also in Room 209 starting at 6:00 pm.

The early start time for the meetings is designed to allow people to be done in time for Wednesday classes and other evening activities.

Join the Oasis Team!

Each week Oasis serves over 450 kids, helping them learn about God’s love for them, and helping them discover His wonderful plan for their lives. The ministry is looking for volunteers to serve in classrooms, lead music or skits, and help with administrative work for the coming year, starting in June.

Oasis Director Jeff Risley says it’s not only a fun role, but it’s also spiritually significant work, sometimes giving the volunteers the opportunity to be the first to tell a child about God. And the volunteers also demonstrate God’s character and attributes. “They show kids that God is not some passive kill-joy who wants to ruin their fun, but a loving father who wants to enable them to have the best life possible.”

Jeff says it takes over 400 volunteers to cover the roles across all Xenos locations, and each year need about 100 new workers to fill in for current volunteers who move to other ministries or take a year off.

Jeff says these volunteers not only serve the kids, but also serve their parents, making Central Teachings a welcoming place for families, and giving mom and dad a chance to focus on the teaching.

And he says serving in this role benefits the volunteers—they can learn to teach, lead small groups, and work on a team. “Oasis is a great training ground.  As people grow in their primary ministry in their home groups, Oasis can supplement that growth by giving extra chances to serve, teach, and provide an avenue for loving service.”

If you’re considering it, you need to be an active home group member. Jeff says they like for people to be able to make an every-other week commitment, so they can better build relationships with the kids, but that they do allow for service once per month or every week if needed.

You can learn more about volunteering at xenos.org/oasis and you can fill out an application by clicking volunteer on that page.

Sign Up Now for an XSI Volunteer Role

The Xenos Summer Institute is 3 months away and the call is going out for volunteers—over 350 are needed to make the conference a success. In addition to being a part of something eternally significant, volunteers get free conference registration.

The conference draws over 3,500 people each year, and with only 4 paid staff members, XSI Director Kim Van Keuls says volunteers are an essential part of the operation. She says they not only take care of needed tasks, but also serve as a friendly host to the thousands of people attending. “This conference would not be possible if it wasn't for the volunteers! I receive feedback about how helpful our folks are and the sense of community that people experience here.”

Kim says volunteering is very flexible, with many different opportunities, and the chance to work as many or as few hours as they like. She says one of the benefits is enjoying the excitement of what God is doing through XSI. “When you volunteer you get to see the big picture of what God is doing and how He uses this event. Volunteers typically get to hear people's stories about what they are learning and experiencing.”

Study Center to Move This Month

The Xenos Study Center will likely be moving this month from Main Campus to its new location at the Warehouse complex. Depending on final inspections, the move is tentatively set for next week. If things go well, Operations Coordinator Steve Bauer says the new space should be open for use after the week of April 15th.

The main reason for the move is the need for improved staff space for senior leadership at Main Campus. The plan is to convert the current Office Auditorium to office space for senior leaders (several of whom currently have no dedicated desk space) so they can work together more easily.

The current Study Center will then be converted into a meeting space, replacing the space being renovated for the new leadership offices. The Office Auditorium is currently heavily used by several groups, and Xenos is working with those groups to accommodate their needs while the space is being renovated. The new auditorium space should be ready sometime in June, and Steve says it will be more conducive to event hosting than the current Office Auditorium.

The move will also accommodate the Study Center’s changing needs. The new study space will be more centrally located for Xenos’ diverse age groups--closer to campus, but not too far from suburbs. Equipping Division Coordinator Pat Reeder says it will offer the same warm atmosphere and resources. And he says it'll be a great place to study--"While the main area will be for quiet study, there will be numerous private study spaces to reserve for discipleship or other private meetings."

Thanks to a delivery service you'll still be able to pick up Study Center resources and materials at the Main Campus office as well as take make-up class exams there.

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