Category Archives: Serve Your Neighbors

Generosity :: Feeds

Pastor Ron Klabunde,  President of Replenish Community Foundation, is a great friend of ELI and Cultivate. He shared this Replenish initiative with us:

Many new churches are looking for missional opportunities to engage both Christians and pre-Christians in Jesus’ mission, while creating an environment of discipleship.

Formed from the creative missional expressions of a church plant in Northern Virginia, Generosity::Feeds has grown into a nationwide collaborative effort with church plants and their local communities, to ignite new discipling relationships while addressing the food insecurity of children in their area.


You can work with Generosity::Feeds to engage your church and community to package 10,000 or more meals in 2 hours! These are then given to your local schools to distribute to children who go hungry outside school hours. Learn more at


Laughter Escapes

We received this video from Toni Mello, a church planter from Brazil who is part of ELI’s Cultivate Church Planter training. And, by the way, stay tuned for some exciting news about Cultivate, coming in the next few weeks…


The project Escapa Riso (Laughter Escapes) takes the gospel to the pediatric ward of a big city hospital through creative evangelism. It is an initiative of the Igreja da Cidade (City Church) in Salvador – Brazil. The team consists of counselors and clowns making jokes, doing magic tricks, and speaking of the love of Jesus in a manner sensitive to the reality of suffering of those children and parents.
Everything came from the desire to be missionally active, in a way compatible with the possibilities of  a small church plant. Since then, the team has continued to grow and now has developed training and workshops, and we have been invited to go to other hospitals.


Not Alone

This is a short reminder that church planters are never in it alone. There are others both rejoicing and battling through struggles (sometimes simultaneously!). This story comes from good friends of ELI, Shane and Erin Latham, planters in Brazil.

“We have seen tremendous advances in ministry dreams and efforts like growth in the church… the 12 people taken off the street and placed at our partner recovery retreat. Along with these victories, the kids have been adapting well… and God has been providing enough English students to cover our lack of monthly support… we have seen people come to trust in Jesus through relationships started during English classes.

In short, our marriage, family and ministry life have never felt so meaningful even in the midst of what is certainly one of our leanest financial moments.

Yet it has been difficult to see tragedy after tragedy occur close to home. In the last three weeks we have had two young girls (known to us and our church) killed within blocks of our house (in drug related shootings), and since yesterday we have been working with Andre and Sidi (our local Brazilian partners) as they struggle through the funeral preparations for Sidi’s mother who was senselessly stabbed to death in her home 24 hours ago.

Six months ago, a neighbor lady two blocks over from our house suffered the same fate for the burglary of a dvd and a car. It seems that violence is all around us and I know it has been weighing on our family’s spirit.

There are still more blessings to count than I can write here, like the salvation of two young men in my prison ministry (both in for multiple violent crimes like the ones I’m describing).We are truly partners with you in this endeavor to see new churches planted and new disciples developed in south Brazil and beyond.”

If, as a church planter, you find you feel alone and maybe even forgotten, remember you are part of a movement of people working in different settings but with the same purpose – to raise up a Church out of the culture.


Matt’s House

Here is a great story of perseverance in prayer, and sudden provision! ELI asked Rob Benson, of Matt’s House in Maryland, to give us the details.
One of our prayers for Matt’s House when we launched, was that God would guide us to the needs He wanted us to meet.  Allison and several others with a passion to reach young moms established a young mom’s support group, in partnership with Metro-Maryland Youth for Christ.


Through this experience, Allison began to volunteer with the Center for Pregnancy Concerns in Baltimore, a center that has been around for over 35 years and provides excellent free services to woman facing unplanned pregnancies.  She has been volunteering for over 2 years and has received countless hours of training as a peer to peer counselor.  The center provides sonograms for expectant moms, peer to peer counseling, health screenings with a nurse, and material assistance:  baby clothing, maternity clothes, baby formula and food, diapers, cribs, blankets, and more – all for free. They also provide parenting classes, and help moms connect to government service providers.


We at Matt’s House believe that this is a direction that God has been calling us, so we have been working toward and praying for a partnership with CPC.  I was invited to join the Advisory Board last year and this year was asked to join the Board of Directors. After much prayer and dialogue, the Board of Directors invited Matt’s House into a partnership to open a Pregnancy Center in Arbutus, providing services to an underserved area in and around Baltimore.


On Friday, April 6,  a letter was sent out to CPC supporters to raise the $20,000 necessary to launch and fund the Arbutus Center through the first year.  Monday, April 9, Carol Clews, the Executive Director for CPC, received a phone call from a supporter for a Matching gift of $10,000 to go toward opening the new center.  On Tuesday, April 10, a check arrived in the mail for $10,000, so God raised $20,000 in 2 days!


When Allison sent out the good news about the $10,000 matching gift via email, she received a multitude of responses, and 17 of those responses were from individuals who want to either financially support the new center or  personally volunteer.


Later, Allison when was introduced to the 80 person advisory board of the CPC as the new center coordinator, they also announced that another $12,000 had come in, making the total $32,000 for the new center!


We look forward to renovating our storefront space, the Community Connection Center, so that it can now serve as a Crisis Pregnancy Center.  Our hope is to open the doors to the new CPC @ Matt’s House this summer!


This is an answer to our prayer that our hearts would break for the broken hearted, and our lives and ministry would adapt to meet their needs. Our prayer is to give them a tangible demonstration of God’s love – and that is what this new center will do.



Just Love


I was in Austin this week for some meetings at Gateway.  I saw this card and was intrigued. Free portraits is a unique way to serve the homeless. Unfortunately, since my flight left as the event started, I couldn’t go.  When I landed for a short layover in San Diego, I read the following email from John Short, one of the serve pastors at Gateway.


Tonight I meet a couple of volunteers from Gateway that just started dating.  Jim and Debbie.  Jim is from the D (Detroit, as is our family), we hit it off immediately.  Then, Ramy walks up to me and says he met a “legit” guy that needs some help.  He wants me to check his story, so I look over to where Ramy’s pointing and Jim and Debbie are sitting down with this guy Kyle, who is about 19, talking. 


Kyle is tearing up, so I go over to check his story and just see what’s up …what kind of help does he need?  Kyle tells us he has a good job up by Domain as a forklift driver.  He’s from Kansas and he’s just run out of money to pay for a hotel. I Google his work and find a hotel right across the street. Jim and Debbie agree to go with me to the hotel.  Debbie follows us, with Kyle and Jim in car with me.  Jim and Kyle talk MMA all the way to the hotel.  When we get to the hotel to check him in, they give us a break on the price.  Jim and Debbie take Kyle out to eat and exchange numbers after I leave to go home.  They are going to Goodwill tomorrow to get him some shoes and shirts. They plan to bring him to Gateway on Sunday.  Kyle gets paid on Thursday and we we’re able to get him a room until Thursday morning.


Jim and Debbie are the story here.  They were going to go out after, hang with friends, but God had other plans. They potentially changed the trajectory of Kyle’s life tonight.  It’s not just a room, a meal, or clothes, it’s “Just Love.”


It’s amazing what God can do when people are simply willing to love their neighbors.