Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Easter Eggs

From the several years I served on ministry staff after college and before L was born always encouraged me to present the Truths of the gospel in unique ways.  Our Christmas programs weren't descriptive of Santa Claus, and when it came to Easter, no bunny was ever the center of attention.  But somehow, we couldn't move away from the classic egg hunt (not to be confused with an "Easter Egg Hunt").  So, it was more about the Resurrection!!! Resurrection!!! Resurrection!!!! then, a few minutes to grab some eggs.
I lead 80+ sweet preschoolers (ages 2-5) every Monday in chapel, and the Easter story is one of my favorites to share every year! This year, I wanted to do something a little different to span over all of the ages of the children, so I decided to do a shortened version of the classic Resurrection eggs. And, behold, the "bunny" never showed up. This is a great, simple and easy way to remember the basics of the gospel-so adults will benefit too in hearing the message of HOPE. Share this message with as much gusto as you can and as often as you can!!

Gather 6 different colored plastic eggs.  Gather a heart, bandaid, cross, stone, and a butterfly (simple cutouts of the heart, cross and butterfly work well!).  Put one object in the 5 different eggs (the other egg will be empty).  Here is the explanation for each egg.

1. Put the heart in the first egg.
God's love is so big and wide.  He loves each us of us so much, that he created the world and all of the beauty around us for us to enjoy.  His love is for everyone!  (John 3:16)

2. Put the bandaid in the second egg.
Unfortunately, we do things that make God sad all of the time, every day.  It's like we are sad too, because we have boo boos (that's what we use bandaids for anyway, right?!).  God knew that we would need something to heal our boo boos and protects everyday. (Romans 3:23)

3. Put the cross in the third egg.
Because we do those bad things (what we call sins), God had a plan to help us - more than just a bandaid.  He would change the world forever by telling his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross, even those Jesus didn't deserve to die.  He was so perfect and never made God sad.  But, God loved the world so much that he sent Jesus to die for us. (John 3:16; 19:17-18)

4. Put the stone in the fourth egg.
After Jesus' death, the guards took him off the cross and wrapped him in white linens and laid him in a tomb.  Then they rolled a stone, so big and so heavy, at the entrance of the tomb and guards kept watch to make sure no one came near the tomb.  (Matthew 27:59-60)

5. Leave the 5th egg empty.
Three days after Jesus' death, some of his friends were on their way to the tomb to pray.  They were sad that their friend had died in such a horrible way.  But when they arrived, they saw that the stone in front of the tomb had been rolled away.  Concerned, they looked inside and only saw the white linens that wrapped Jesus' body.  Frightened, they heard a voice speak to them from behind "Don't be afraid! He is not here, for he has risen!"  They were so excited to know that Jesus was alive and wanted to tell everyone.  (Matthew 28:5-6)

6. Put the butterfly in the last egg.
It is so sweet that Jesus isn't dead, but now alive!  Because of Jesus' death and that he rose from the dead, we can have new life when we follow Jesus.  When we love Jesus, we become a "new creation", much like how the caterpillar turns into a "new life" as a butterfly.  The Bible tells us that anyone "if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.  The old has gone, the new is come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)  We can have new life in Christ, because he died for us.

Make this as exciting as you can-aren't you JOYFUL in your new life?!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A return

Dear friends,

It is with great excitement that I share with you, that two months from today, Lord willing, I will return to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, but with Jeremy joining me this time for another week of mercy ministry.  We have been praying for the opportunity since before I even landed on US soil from last year's trip.  God continues to stir our hearts and we are excited to see what is next - for the the immediate future and long term - for our family.  There is so much to accomplish before we leave and we extend our hearts to ask for help; prayerfully and financially.  

As always, a new year can  bring new opportunities, celebrations, achievements, and growth, and for this, we are excited for 2016!  God has been faithful in His provisions and protection over our family and those around us, and in this last year brought great perspective to our ministry as a family.  We are excited to share with you a bit about 2015 and give you insight to what we are looking forward to most in 2016.

Last May, I joined a team of 7 other adults from Tirzah ARP Church and my own church, First ARP Church in Rock Hill, SC for a mission trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  While there for a week, we served alongside the ministry staff of Manos Extendidas (Extended Hands) in the community of the most populated city in the country.  Alvin and Nelly, missionaries and leaders of the ministry, instructed us each day in the ministries where we would serve, giving background and history of the people we would meet and how we could best share our testimonies in a cross-cultural experience (and in a non-native language)!  Many of you have already heard the stories of meeting people and moments that were life-changing.

We participated in church worship services, visited teenage girls in a detention center, showered mothers of 12-24 hour old newborns in the maternity hospital with blankets, onesies and prayers, played with preschool children in feeding centers, and fed homeless men, women and children in some of the poorest areas of the world.  

And because I could speak Spanish, I had the  opportunity to teach Bible lessons to young children and share the Truth of the Gospel after a church service with a woman addicted to pain pills.  In “Teguc” we were simply the hands and feet of spreading God’s love however we could with whomever we could.  The Lord’s presence was in our coming and our going, everywhere we went.

The landscape of the city was absolutely phenomenal.  One morning before breakfast, I hiked up a mountain behind the Manos Extendidas house and was able to see a breathtaking view of a lesser populated region in the valley.  On that mountain, the Lord brought great encouragement and deepened a desire to serve the people of that neighborhood in a permanent capacity.  Jeremy and I have prayed diligently for the people of  Honduras and for an opportunity to return and serve as partners there, and potentially seek opportunities for how the Lord could use our entire family there in the upcoming years.   These things give us great excitement!

The Lord always keeps His promises.  In just a few short months, Jeremy and I have an opportunity to serve at Manos Extendidas with another team of adults in May.  We are thrilled, but we understand that this opportunity comes with its share of needs.  You can join us and be an integral part of this ministry, too!  First, we seek your prayers.  Pray for us, for safety in travels, for good health, for logistics in caring for M and L in our absence, for the preparation of our mission, for Alvin and Nelly, for the people in Honduras to be receptive to the Good News they hear and love they receive, for positive relational building among other team members, and for language acquisition to continue to grow. All of these things need constant prayer and we would be most grateful if you would become prayer  partners with us before, during, and after our trip.

Because Jeremy and I will both join the mission team this year, there is great financial need as well.  The total cost for both of us will be approximately $2400, but we are grateful for our supportive church that will fund a portion of that cost.  As a couple, we are responsible for raising $1200.  We know God abundantly provides more than we can imagine each day, and reaching this financial need is no exception.   As you commit to praying for us, will you also pray how you may support us financially?  If you feel you could participate in this way, you may send a monetary gift to us before April 1st (via PayPal- or to our church with "Ghent-Honduras" in the memo.  We are so grateful for your support, in any way, and we look forward to “extending your hands” (Manos Extendidas) as we minister to and through the people of   Honduras.

You are such an important part of our family and we are thankful to have supporters to our right and left, in front and behind us.  We will keep you informed about our trip, specific prayer needs as they arise, and our days while we are in Tegucigalpa in May.  You may find Honduras updates here as the weeks continue (  Thank you for serving the body of Christ along with the Ghent family!

Amanda and Jeremy Ghent
c/o First ARP Church
201 East White Street
Rock Hill, SC  29730

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.                        Ephesians 3:20-21