A group of leaders from Xenos is just back from a trip to the African nation of Côte d'Ivoire, and, despite difficulties and persecution, reports continued growth among a network of house churches there.
Xenos elders Scott Risley and Jim Leffel, along with Linda Leffel and Mike Woods, spent 7 days there, training and encouraging 50 people who are working as church planters. They returned with amazing stories of God reaching into the heart of this country that for years has seen intermittent civil war, government instability, and ethnic tensions.
The team reports there are now over 700 home churches spread across the country. And God continues to open the hearts of influential village chiefs. The Xenos team reports “Chiefs continue to turn and follow the Most High God, which opens the door to many in their villages to come to know Christ.”
Here is more from the team’s report:
In many areas where home churches are growing; there is some kind of instability, poverty, or persecution. Believers may face being ostracized or persecuted by their village communities, where most people are animists or Muslim. Looking around at the church planting leaders we met with, our team was really humbled by their stories of faith under fire during the most recent civil war, trying to maintain their ministry as wanted men. These believers are courageous, committed, and completely unwavering and the work of God is prospering under trials.
Meet the challenge posed by internet dangers with help from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office ICAC Task Force. Detectives will present an internet safety program at Xenos on June 20th from 7:00-9:00 pm. It's open to anyone, but could be particularly helpful for parents and those who work with young people in their ministry.
During this presentation, you'll get the opportunity to hear some task force undercover detectives speak about recently sentenced cases they've investigated. They'll cover internet safety, sexting, and the dangers presented by online predators and social media. They'll also discuss how to report situations that concern you, and how to preserve evidence if you suspect your child has been exploited online. And they''ll help you know how to prevent your child from communicating with predators in the first place.
You can help make this summer special for local kids in low-income neighborhoods by volunteering to help with the upcoming Renegade camps. There's a music camp that runs the week of June 11th and a sports/arts camp that runs June 25th.
Jenna Herron is organizing volunteers and says there are a lot of different volunteer positions, so you can find a role that is right for you. They need people to lead groups, teach different skills, and--what she says is their biggest need--drive kids to and from camp.
Both camps feature Bible study, breakfast and lunch, and a chance to build friendships with their peers and with the mentors with their group. The music camp offers group singing and the chance to try different instruments, and the sports-arts camp offers the chance to learn sports skills and work on art projects.
You can get more information at this link and can email your questions to Jenna at email@example.com.
Each year Xenos Schools host the Spring Fling, a fun run that raises money for the Humanitarian Aid Fund. This year the run raised $1150 for the fund, with 107 kids and adults participating.
The organizers want to send out a thank you to organizations that donated prizes for the top runners and team leaders. Those included CAPA, which donated tickets to CATCO and the Ohio Theater Summer Movie Series, and Vertical Adventures, which donated free rock climbing day passes.
Sign up to volunteer at the Xenos Summer Institute and we will register you to attend the entire conference for free!
The XSI volunteer recruitment season starts this weekend, May 13th. It takes over 400 volunteers to fill hundreds of shifts and we need your help make this conference run like a well-oiled machine. Ellin Granger has been a walk-in registration volunteer for 15 years and says it’s pleasant work. “I enjoy meeting the visitors and have stayed in touch with some of the out of town people for several years.”
It’s easy to volunteer. Simply go to the Summer Institute section of the Xenos website, click on the “volunteer” button, find a role you like, and sign up. You will also see which home church spheres will be at each satellite location to help you decide when and where you want to volunteer.
Volunteer Joel Knapke oversees the workshop teaching assistants. He says he does it “because there’s an awesome sense of satisfaction that comes from doing the work that makes XSI happen and keeps it inexpensive to attend. Being able to support an affordable, major equipping event for our church and other churches is quite rewarding.” Join Joel, Ellin, and many other volunteers to make this an amazing event.
The Xenos Summer Institute is July 11-13, and this year’s theme is The God Who Is There with key speakers J. Warner Wallace and Sean McDowell. There will be a variety of breakout sessions offering a wide range of appealing topics.
Gracehaven is giving you the chance to put on safety gear and rappel down one of the tallest buildings in Columbus. It’s the Over the Edge event at Chase Tower in downtown Columbus, raising money to help end child sex trafficking in Central Ohio.
Each year the event gets a lot of attention, which organizer Teri Alexander says is part of the point of doing something so dramatic. “We chose this event because of its uniqueness and also because it gives us an extraordinary opportunity to bring awareness to the evil of child sex trafficking in our community.”
People who want to participate must raise at least $1250, but because of generous corporate sponsorship, all money raised goes to Gracehaven’s work. While it may sound like a lot, Teri says you’ll get a lot of ideas and support to help you make it happen.
And Teri says people who’ve taken part in the past have been so glad they did. “Our rappellers have shared with us that it has been an amazing experience for them, both from the physical experience of rappelling off a skyscraper downtown to learning more about child sex-trafficking and being able to make a difference in the lives of these victims.”
Alli Krivanek has done it the last two years will be back again this year. “I absolutely love it. The event overall is super exciting and it’s so neat to see so many people coming together and working together for this cause.”
Alli says she had never rappelled before her first Over the Edge but didn’t find herself full of fear. “As I stepped on the top of the building peering over the edge I definitely got an adrenaline rush. Rappelling down the side of the building is actually a lot harder work than you would think. But the view coming down the building is incredible and leaves you speechless.”
Conrad has written this with those who grew up in less than perfect homes in mind, who have lacked parental input on important issues. Searching for Wisdom shows how our heavenly Father's wisdom fills in the gaps left by our earthly parents.
It goes on sale for $9.99 this Sunday at all Xenos bookstores and the Study Center.
Registration for this year's VBS (Vacation Bible School) opens this Sunday, April 29th. Sign your kids up, and also think of kids outside of Xenos who would benefit from this fun-filled week learning about God's love for them.
VBS is June 18-22, and it's for kids in preschool through those entering third grade. The cost is $20 if you register by June 4th, and $40 for a family. You can find registration forms at Central Teachings or online at xenos.org/vbs.
From time to time, we offer a closer look at one of the Xenos elders. This time we highlight our newest elder, Chris Hearty, and find out what led to his role at Xenos:
What brought you to Xenos, and why have you stayed?
I was brought out to a Xenos home church for the first time in late 2004 as an atheist college student. I visited on and off for a couple months until I decided that I wasn't interested. The months that followed in early 2005 brought me to an extreme breaking point. My life was in tatters, I had distanced myself from my friends and family and was in the darkest spot of my life. My best friend from childhood had, in the meantime, come to begin a relationship with Christ and had continued to attend weekly home church meetings and central teachings. I had major problems with his change of priorities in life and had taken his new found spiritual interest as a personal affront. As our relationship crumbled and my life fell apart, the Lord stepped in and gave me another chance.
Through a series of miraculous events and chance encounters, I was brought back out to a home church meeting. In late April of 2005, in tears, I decided to call out to the Lord and ask for Christ's death on the cross to apply to my shattered life. At the moment I knew everything had changed and God had answered my prayer. I have been involved in the college and high school ministries ever since. I owe a great deal to Brian Runk and James Rochford, who continued to minister to me through this process. They were used by God in a powerful way to answer my questions and to point me towards God's grace. Conrad Hilario has also invested a great deal of time and prayers into helping equip and train me to lead the people God has put under my care. His perseverance and investment in my life is unmeasurable and I am eternally grateful for his love for me and my family.
What do you feel are the strength and weaknesses of our church?
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matt. 5:16
Folks in college home churches have been proving themselves a friend to their community, with an increased focus on involvement in service projects--supporting existing ones and organizing new ones. It’s a concerted effort to be a good friend to the neighborhoods where many members of the college ministry meet. And it's igniting others to do the same.
This month 14 people from the college ministry joined in on an existing community event--the Old North Litter Cleanup. The organizer of the event said she had never had so many join in her effort and that it was so great to have the additional help. The college group members shared about their motivation-that folks from Xenos care about being involved in the community.
The college ministry is planning more service projects, especially in campus-area neigborhoods.