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Life Is Hard

It was the Christmas of 1996, and Robin Kettering, mother of three and pastor’s wife, remembers her family packing up to head to the Florida Keys for a seaside holiday. She was excited to break in a new pair of sneakers on the trip, but began to notice an unusual numb sensation in her right foot. At first assuming the shoes were the cause, she overlooked the issue. However, more questions began to arise when the numbness in her foot continued to spread to her leg. She knew something was not right.

Within a year, Robin was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease that hones in on the brain and spinal cord. It creates a disconnect between the brain and the rest of the body, often causing fatigue, limited mobility, or loss of vision.

As a person of faith, how do you respond to the diagnosis of a chronic disease with no cure?

Aside from the fear and emotion that coincides with this kind of news, Robin reminisces, “I felt thankful in my heart because I knew God was going to take care of me. Life is hard, but God is good.” Her resolution to trust in God, even though depression and anger could have easily set in, is the theme that has reigned in her life, especially in the last twenty years.

Robin has always been determined, energetic, and passionate about ministry. As a young lady, she attended University of Valley Forge to follow God’s call to ministry. At Valley Forge, she met her husband, Jeff Kettering, and they moved into full-time pastoring after graduating from Bible school. Robin invested in the youth and children’s programs; however, her calling shifted as she became a mom to three energetic boys, Tim, Peter, and Michael. She also worked as a lifeguard, a school bus driver and taught swimming lessons.

In the last twenty years, her life has shifted externally but has remained steadfast at the foundation. She has learned to adapt to life in a wheelchair, and even embraces the conversations it initiates. When acquaintances pity her condition, she assures them, “God is taking care of me.”

She says that you should never underestimate the power of staying connected to people and to a support system. As a naturally independent person, she has learned dependency; depending on her husband and on her caregivers to help her with daily tasks has taught her the importance of humility and keeping a thankful, gentle spirit. She has learned to accept her limitations and does what she can with what she has been given.

As a recently ordained AG pastor, Robin uses her story to share with women’s groups and churches. She communicates with passion her prescription, her 4 M’s recipe for joy. The detours her life has taken, due to MS, have not always been easy, but she has still managed to keep a tight grip on joy.

To anyone who has a hard diagnosis, a loss, a devastating disappointment or a detour in life, Robin encourages you to remember that God still has a plan for you. And to remember that you did not do anything wrong to bring you to this place. She reiterates that if you trust in God, He will see you through. “Yes, life is hard, but yes, God is good.” 

Robin’s 4 M’s to Joy


She is constantly asking for help from God, “Lord help me!”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when
you are in need. (Romans 10:13)


She keeps a melody and song in her mind and heart always.

Robin’s Go-To Songs for Encouragement:
Just Be Held by Casting Crowns & Come Holy Spirit


She meditates on scripture daily to
keep her spirit revived and encouraged.

Robin’s Go-To Scriptures:
Philippians 4 & Romans 8:28


She makes up her mind to say yes to God.

When you don’t know what to pray, pray the Lord’s Prayer to keep your mind centered on God’s will.


Follow The Leader

We’ve probably all played the game “Follow the Leader,” and while some may consider it just a simple game for children, it really does represent the whole point of leadership. After all, it’s hard to be a leader when no one is following you! So what does it look like to lead so that others can follow? In the last issue of Connexions, I shared about a picture of leadership, which encompassed five tried and true leadership practices.

One of those practices, “Model the Way,” describes how we lead through the four “C’s:” competency, chemistry, character, and calling. We need to know what we’re doing, be able to get along and work with other people, be a person of integrity, and be aware of and obedient to God’s calling on our lives. Psalm 78:72 speaks of David and says that “He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.”

Leading with character is extremely important, and attitude plays a big role in that. Your attitude is one thing you can control that will have a big impact on your success as a leader. How do you respond when things go wrong or when you face difficulties? Do you have the same values at home as you do at church? Are you following Jesus personally? You can only lead others as well as you are being led. If you’re not continually pursuing a close relationship with Christ and being led by Him, then where are you leading those who are following you? While changing negative attitudes can be difficult, it can be done with prayer and perseverance.

Another thing to keep in mind when leading so that others can follow is this: if we want the people we lead to follow us and stay on the right path, we need to guide from the front instead of driving from the back. Cattle ranchers drive from the back – they yell and use a whip to get the cattle where they need to be. Shepherds, on the other hand guide from the front. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and trust it enough to follow. When we have integrity and inspire trust in the people we lead, they will follow us. This is why in the LEAD U training that we do with leaders at GT, the biblical picture for “Model the Way” is the shepherd’s staff to remind us to lead from the front.

There is a story told about an army that was chasing after Alexander the Great. They were expecting to surprise him from behind and overtake him. What they weren’t expecting was being led completely outside the borders of the map they had and feeling completely lost. Sometimes that’s how it is with following Christ. He can lead us to places where we feel completely off the map with no clue where we are going. But if we continue to follow Him, we can be sure that we are going in the right direction along with those who follow us.


Getting Self-Leadership Right

Many volumes have been written over the last couple of decades regarding leadership in the church. Great resources have been produced to train leaders in the how-to side of leadership, the relationship aspect of leading others and the systems approach to developing effective church structures. These tools can equip ministers to fulfill their call to serve in the church of Jesus Christ with greater effectiveness in ways that would otherwise require much time to learn in the school of life experience.

Preaching is at the core of what we are called to do, but we come to understand that being a shepherd of God’s flock extends further than the pulpit. Our call to ministry certainly involves the proclamation of the good news and the equipping of God’s people through the exposition of the Word, but our call does not end there.

Dr. Bradford’s book, Lead So Others Can Follow, gets to the heart of what we call today “self-leadership.” Discussion related to leadership principles from a “how-to” perspective are inadequate in kingdom work. While a political or business leader may experience a certain level of success through the exercise of the power of position and personal expertise, in the kingdom of God, the additional qualities of spirituality and personal influence are critical to what is to be accomplished in building the church. Getting self-leadership right makes it possible to lead so others can follow.

Ministers’ Enrichment speaker, Dr. James Bradford, will help us develop those key skills for ministry that are foundational for effective service in the kingdom of God. Join us for this time of
learning, growth and enrichment that will bless you personally and will bless your ministry in the future.


Be Fearless

“Can I tell you about what I’ve been doing in my school?” McKenzie asked me one night after I spoke at her youth group. She was quiet and unassuming, but I could tell she had a passion for Jesus and a story to share. She told me how she’d invited her entire class to a weekly Bible Study, and that a few dozen students were attending regularly. I was a little surprised because McKenzie was a very shy and quiet student; she was not the personality type most people would expect to fearlessly launch a movement and make a difference for the Gospel.


A few months later I contacted McKenzie and asked if we could document her story with a video, and if she would be willing to appear on stage with me at an event to tell the story in her own words. She declined. McKenzie said, “To be honest, I’m very shy and I don’t consider myself to be a leader. I’m not comfortable in front of large crowds, and I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I just want to make a difference for Jesus amongst my friends and in my school.” I was disappointed with her response, but I wasn’t surprised; this was more in line with what most would expect from her personality type. McKenzie reveals an interesting juxtaposition for all of us who follow Jesus; we are not all called to be leaders, but we are all called to lead others to Christ.


In the church, we have too frequently conflated these separate concepts, and often to the detriment of the mission of God. The Apostle Paul wrote that some have the gift of leadership, but some have other gifts, such as serving or giving (see Romans 12:3-8). At the same time, all believers are called to lead others to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), and we can even receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). So we are not all leaders, but we are all to be leading our friends and acquaintances to Christ. McKenzie was a perfect working example of this seeming irreconcilable contradiction; she wasn’t a leader, yet she was leading many to the Cross through the Scriptures. She was making a difference for the Gospel, fulfilling the call placed upon all followers of Christ.


When we assume that only “leaders” can start a movement that will make a difference, or that only those in leadership can share the Gospel, we severely limit the scope and breadth of God’s mission. We also limit the further discipleship and effectiveness of all believers. Worst of all, we put the Holy Spirit in a box, as though the empowerment that is for all followers of Christ is only for a few. It’s time to reject this way of thinking. It’s time to embrace the truth that all believers are called to make a difference for the Gospel; that all can share their faith without fear; that each one can be used by God to shape history.


Join us for a brand new event designed to equip teenagers to make a difference for the Gospel. This is not an event for “leaders,” it’s an event for all believers! It’s Fearless: One Day to Make a Difference, a one-day conference happening in three locations: west, central, and east. Students will be inspired and empowered to serve their friends, talk about their faith, and make a difference without fear. For details and to register, go to




A Picture of Leadership

The sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, had this to say about leaders: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” That’s a powerful definition! At GT Church we’ve struggled at times with how to raise up these kinds of leaders. We want to build a strong leadership culture, and we have worked towards that goal by developing a discussion model of training we call Lead U.

We invite current and potential leaders, both staff and volunteer, to go through this training so that we share a unified vision of what a leader does. When they’ve completed the training, our leaders should walk away understanding and applying five core practices/values of leadership which were taken and adapted from The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.

You’ve heard the phrase “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” and it’s true. Sometimes an image can speak volumes. We have chosen to tie each core practice to an image in order to create a picture of leadership:

Model the Way
David was chosen by God to lead the Israelites, and Psalm 78:72 says that, “He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.” Lead with character and competency. Set the example. Model the steps and actions you want people to take. Things need to get done, but if you’re lacking character, then you’re missing the most vital piece of the puzzle.

Inspire a Shared Vision
Moses was a leader with a clear vision from the Lord, and he needed to get the Israelites on board. Leaders should be like a pair of glasses, helping others to have a clear vision of where they are going. Leaders should not only cast vision, but inspire those who are following them and move them toward action.

Challenge the Process
In Daniel 1:8 we see Daniel challenge the process when he requests permission not to eat unacceptable foods given to him by the king. Be willing to ask and be asked questions, even when it causes friction. Just like friction helps gears to turn and create forward motion, challenging the process can help to bring about positive change in your ministry.

Enable Others to Act
In Judges 4:14, Deborah enables Barak to act when she tells him, “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” Make it practical and possible for someone else to do something. The ripple effect that could create will go far beyond what you could do alone.

Encourage the Heart
1 Samuel 6:7 tells us, “people judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Leaders need to recognize the work of individuals and create a spirit of community within their teams. Don’t forget to encourage your own heart as well – it’s hard to encourage others when your tank is empty!

I love having the opportunity to provide leadership coaching not only to leaders at GT, but to other churches as well. For more information, please visit We lead Better Together!



An Underutilized Asset

Have you ever wondered how the young people in your church can be developed into the Christ-like servant leaders of tomorrow’s church? Look no further than your Royal Rangers outpost. The major purpose of Royal Rangers is to develop boys and young men into Christ-like servant leaders. What better source for finding helpers for Christian Education classes, youth group leaders, worship team members, and more!

Junior Leadership training begins in the local outpost with Leadership Merits and the Leadership Foundation course available through the TracClub Leaders’ track. Boys also receive leadership training by attending district run camps within the Junior Leadership Development Academy (JLDA). These camps run three to four days each, beginning with the Ranger Training Camp (RTC) for Discovery Ranger boys who have completed the 4th grade. This camp teaches a boy about his role within his patrol in the outpost. The Junior Training Camp (JTC), for boys who completed the 6th grade, teach boys their role within their outposts. The JTC is followed by the Advanced Junior Training Camp (AJTC) that teaches boys about their role within their church and community. High school aged boys and their leaders can complete skill-based action camps designed to teach boys specific skills such as canoeing, computers, or basic auto mechanics.

Collectively, these camps teach basic and advanced leadership skills such as interacting with others, event planning, responsibility, and developing integrity using the Bible and its principals as the foundation. When these boys come back from these camps they are ready to be put to work. Try it!  Send your Ranger boys to a JLDA camp and then use them upon their return. They’ll be a great resource for helping in other ministries in your church. Go to for applications and more information.


We Are Always Better Together

Women step through the doors of our churches with a wide array of backgrounds and personal stories. Some often struggle with past experiences, unhealthy relationships, confusion, and heartbreak. Along with that baggage, women also bring with them unique abilities, spiritual gifts, and a call to serve. Ministry within the church is God’s design for providing healing, truth and freedom. Those best qualified to minister to and disciple women
are . . . women.

Women are designed for relationship. We are always better together! The church is the very best place to establish godly, healthy relationships, A Quick Guide to Ministering to Women was developed to aid in that effort. It offers practical, effective training for building and strengthening ministry to women. Several topics covered are:

What are the needs of women?

What is the role of the church in ministering to women?

Am I qualified to lead women?

Where do I start?

What do I do?

How do I do it?

A Quick Guide is designed to come alongside the leader, with easy-to-understand instructions and guidelines. Included are extra downloadable resources, templates, and guides. These practical tools were intentionally designed to help leaders establish a strategic plan and build a strong team.

Our prayer is that A Quick Guide to Ministering to Women will inspire you with new ideas. Use it to train leaders. Use it as a small group study. No matter how you implement this guide, we are confident the information will encourage and expand the connection and mobilization of the women of your church. When you gather women, teach them biblical truth and enable them to journey together in passionate pursuit of a stronger walk with Christ . . . great things are guaranteed to happen!


The R-1 Project

Why R-1? We have two pastors who have planted churches in PennDel, but without an R-1 visa and our support they will not be able to stay.

Pastor Saji Varghese has sacrificed to plant a church in Pittsburgh. Because he is here on a student visa, he is unable to be paid for his ministry. He is living on faith!

Pastor Mathew James has an incredible testimony of salvation and healing from radioactive exposure. As he plants his church in Philly, he also shared the challenge of having to go back to India and leave his church if he does not get his R-1.

After meeting them, I was baffled as to how to help them, but then our friends in the New York District introduced us to leaders that are helping pastors in New York City walk through this. We now have a plan to help Pastor Saji, Pastor Mathew and future R-1 pastors.

Pastor Saji completed his education in theological studies and became an evangelist. Later he finished his Master’s Degree in Social Analysis from Serampore University and became a Bible seminary teacher in India. It was in India that he first served as a pastor and church planter.

In 2009, he came to the United States in pursuit of his doctorate degree. Four years later, he successfully completed his Doctorate in Christian Ministry from International Theological Seminary, California.

Pastor Saji is fluent in Malayalam and Hindi. Pastor Saji has ministered throughout 23 of the states of India, and his ministry goes beyond his Malayalam speaking people to reaching out to help Indians as a whole. In Pittsburgh there are people from all parts of India, and he has people in his congregation that speak both languages. Pastor Varghese is married to Girija Chandravathy and they have three wonderful children named Alby, Aida, and Anugraha. If approved for R-1 status, Pastor Saji would like to remain in the United States serving as a pastor/church planter with PennDel.

PRAISE REPORT: We are so happy to report that Saji’s R-1 has just been approved! We are now raising monthly support to help him for the two-year commitment required.

Pastor Mathew had a life changing experience while working in Bahrain at a refinery; a radioactive accident occurred that took the life of three of his co-workers and left him barely alive. Pentecostal sisters came to his room and told him that even though he was exposed to radiation that was thousands of times more powerful than the radiation used in medical therapy, God could save him. It was there in that hospital that Mathew called out to God and was both saved and healed!

Pastor Mathew has since earned a Master of Divinity from Bethel Bible College in South India and was conferred a Doctor of Divinity by the International Christian University in Chesapeake, Virgina. He is currently continuing his education at Faith Theological Seminary in Baltimore.

Today, Pastor Mathew is the pastor of Harvest International Church, a community of believers that were in need of a pastor who understands their culture and communicates in their language. He is serving in the Philadelphia area due to the presence of a large number of Indians in the city. Pastor Mathew married his wife, Blessy, and they were told that because of the radiation exposure, they could not have a child, but God gave them another miracle… they have a wonderful daughter, Keren!

We Need Your Help!

Please pray for favor.

There are interviews that need to happen and paperwork that needs to be reviewed. The process can take many months in a system that is facing many challenges.

Please give to the PennDel R-1 Fund.

With this fund we will be able to help pay the application and attorney fees for the R-1 visas for each pastor and his family. With this fund, we will be able to help with short gaps that the congregations may have in paying their pastor for the two year commitment required by law.

Imagine what would happen if our churches would stand with Pastor Saji and Pastor Mathew and the many pastors and churches that will be empowered by the R-1 Fund. Imagine the stories that would be told for generations to come!

Let’s join together and make this happen!


The Roma Project

The Roma people are experiencing a dynamic move of God. Many are coming to faith in Christ. The transformational work of the Holy Spirit has gained the attention of local community leaders. Marian Kaleja, lead pastor of The Pentecostal Church in Sabinov, has mentored pastoral leadership for the church in Kendice. Land has been purchased, and construction plans are under way. 150 believers in Kendice are now in need of a worship facility to extend the work that God is doing. However, due to extreme poverty, they do not have the resources to move forward with the project. Will you join us in partnering with the Roma people to see this project forward? You can send your offering/pledge to 4651 Westport Dr., Mechanicsburg, PA 17055, or give online at Thank you for your participation!

Roma Project Resources

Promotional “communication” pieces are available in hard copy (upon request) and online at

Don Immel, PennDel Missions Director, is available to do a missions window for the Roma Project or to present missions at missions conventions.

Fares For Missions

In 1982 Harold Crosby introduced a significant helps program for PennDel missionaries. The program was designed to reduce the growing itineration demands placed on our missionaries due to increased budget demands. Fares For Missions targeted two areas to assist missionaries preparing to depart for their field of calling:

  • Infuse $5000 into a missionaries “00” account to avoid drawing that living expenses account into the red while obtaining financial support. Once a missionary reached certain benchmarks of support, the $5K would be released into their living expenses account.
  • Purchase missionaries departure airfare when they were cleared by AGWM to go!

For the past several years, there has been greater demand than income on the Fares For Mission fund.

Missionaries Itinerating

The following PennDel Missionaries are currently itinerating for their first-term & would appreciate an opportunity to share their vision and heart for their World Missions assignment:

  • Ben & Jessica Bock (Europe),
  • Mike & Jess Brown (Latin America)
  • Tom & Brooke Harshberger (Europe)

*Quick Reference: (Ministries/World Missions/Itineration List)

Take advantage of this resource available for you!  Look ahead to the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018 and see which of our PennDel Missionaries are scheduled to come home on furlough.


How Does #BetterTogether Happen?

I am a “Do It Yourself” kind of guy. After high school I spent time in the military and then a few years at several entry level jobs. At age 22, I started a career in the metal fabrication industry, again mostly working solo. I started college at age 32 and began ministry as an associate pastor at age 36.

It was then I realized one is too small of a number to really make an impact. It was a large church, and I was in charge of children’s ministry, Christian education and discipleship, adult Sunday school, small groups, outreach and drama ministry, as well as baby dedication, water baptism and membership. Being overwhelmed, I was suddenly thrust into
developing teams.

I had to recruit, develop, train, release and then supervise people to help me accomplish the task God gave me; most of all I had to pray for guidance and direction. God usually did not send me leaders ready to go, instead He sent me ordinary people; it was my job to equip them to do extraordinary ministry.

How does “Better Together” happen? 

  • I earnestly pray that God leads me to the right person, and He does.
  • I share my heart and vision with passion; it’s always about making a difference.
  • I always give team members what they need to be successful.
  • I make them look good; if all goes well they get the credit; if they fail, I take the blame.
  • I release them to do it their way, knowing what end result is needed.

If things fail, I am not a punisher; everything is a learning experience, what can we do better as a team. It seems few teams last forever; my greatest joy in being “Better Together” is watching God move people on to greater ministry and bringing new team members to share the journey with me. Try it, it’s worth it.


Big Dreamers

The men and women who formed the Assemblies of God more than a Century ago were “big dreamers.” They embraced this BIG DREAM: “We commit ourselves and the movement to Him for the greatest evangelism the world has ever seen.”

This is a bold statement, and by almost any measure we have succeeded in our endeavors on a scale unimaginable to our founders. Today the Assemblies of God has more than 66 million adherents in 255 countries, territories, and provinces.

While we celebrate our victories, I am reminded of what Loren Triplett once said; “We don’t measure ourselves by our success, but by the unfinished task.” Revelation 7:9-12 paints a beautiful picture of a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue standing before the throne of God giving Jesus the glory due his name. If we see this as the end toward which we are working, the task before us can be overwhelming.

One of my BIG DREAMS is to raise up men and women who will go to Eurasia, an area with 44 nations and territories encompassing much of the Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu world. Within the borders of Eurasia, there are more than 4,400 unreached people groups – ethnolinguistic people groups without an adequate witness of the Gospel of Jesus. There are entire countries in Eurasia with fewer followers of Jesus among the local population than you have fingers on one hand.

God has called us to make disciples among every people group, and we believe the best way to do that is to plant churches. These aren’t brick and mortar churches. These are communities of faith that are made up of “living stones.” They are house churches that have in their DNA the idea of multiplication. We want to plant churches that will plant churches that will plant churches.


MinistrieSummit Videos

MinistrieSummit at Monroeville Assembly of God was a great time for spiritual renewal, connection and vision. Our prayer is that the video sessions will continue to inspire and encourage you are your leaders.








Better Together

For several years our District/Network tagline “Better Together” has provided focus and identification for us as we move forward in unity to fulfill our purpose as a fellowship in reproduction, relationship and resources. No individual or congregation can accomplish as much as when all of us move together to serve God in reaching our mission field and ministering to the people in our sphere of influence. The graphic expression on the front cover of this edition effectively depicts our movement corporately toward a direction guided by the Spirit as others continue to join this endeavor. You will find in the pages of this publication many of the efforts we are planning to achieve throughout the various ministries of our network.

Five years ago your churches joined forces to impact one region of India, the state of Rajasthan. It was a great privilege for Marjie and me to return this past year to view the results of your financial contributions and sacrifices. The development of the school has progressed to the point now that about 300 children are getting an education, a healthy meal every day and a school uniform. Most of these children would not have this opportunity had we not partnered to see this accomplished. In addition, the church continues to grow and flourish with the development of the church facilities and the Bible College that trains ministers to pastor and plant churches. A significant part of our project was focused on the Freedom House which houses and provides training in micro business endeavors to rescue those trapped in the trafficking of young girls in that community.

Amazing results in missions happen because we are “Better Together” The seeds you sowed five years ago have grown to produce an amazing harvest for Christ. Sometimes we may wonder where our dollars go and the result of our giving. Your heart would be warmed by the children singing songs about Jesus and the individuals who have been saved by Christ and now are going out to plant more churches that bring life and hope to the lost. The light of Jesus is being proclaimed and your giving made this possible.

Last year our efforts were directed toward a community in Romania assisting Ana and Mike Dascalescu in constructing Baneasa Community Center. Once again, your response to the opportunity of investing in this nation to bring the good news of Jesus’ love has established a foothold that is producing a harvest of souls for the kingdom of God. We demonstrate God’s care for those without the hope of Christ by sending, giving and going to the unreached people of our world.


2017 World Missions Project Video

Thank you for your support for this year’s World Missions Project.

To help communicate the Roma Project, you can download the Roma Project video here:

Roma Project Video


2017 BGMC Project

Jackson’s Ridge Children’s Ministry Training Center
Magaliesburg, South Africa

Jackson’s Ridge is a one of a kind organization dedicated exclusively to changing children’s lives. Jackson’s Ridge is a non profit organization that was established by the Assemblies of God World Missions, USA in partnership with the International Assemblies of God of South Africa. JR (as the locals call it) is located just outside Magaliesburg in the Northwest province of South Africa.

JR Changes Children’s Lives through three exciting ministry programs:

  • First, Jackson’s Ridge is a Children’s Ministry Training Centre for adult leaders, children’s workers, teachers and community workers who want to impact the lives of all children in their communities.
  • Second, Jackson’s Ridge is a Children’s Camping facility specializing in camps for all kinds of children from church groups, community organizations and disadvantaged communities. Jackson’s Ridge also serves as the continental office for Royal Family Kids Camps, a program designed especially for hurting children who have been physically, emotionally and sexually abused and neglected.
  • Third, Jackson’s Ridge is a Resource Centre, providing the largest array of children’s ministry materials and supplies in Africa.

The Penndel CE Department has chosen Jackson’s Ridge as our 2017 BGMC Project. Our Breakaway & Camp offerings will specifically go to support this great work – please come prepared to those events to be a blessing to Jackson’s Ridge! (Feel free to use the video below to promo this project in your church or kids’ ministry!)

BGMC Giving Form for Jackson’s Ridge Project:
Jackson’s Ridge – BGMC Giving Form


2017 Home Missions Project Videos

Thank you for your support for this year’s Home Missions Project.

To help communicate the R1 Project, you can download the vision video here:

Full Version Video

Short Version Video




10X Better

“Whenever the king consulted them on anything, on books or on life, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in His kingdom put together.”  Daniel 1:20


Now is a great time to consider our ways and look at how we can improve… this is our time to become ten times better. A recently survey of PennDel Ministry Leaders highlighted goals in three key areas that provide a great springboard for how we can leap forward in our lives and ministries.



Daniel was under a strict diet that helped him to live a healthy life. I had a wake up call five years ago with a pre-diabetic warning and then relapsed last year in the midst of a stressful season. Getting my blood work done helped me to get an accurate picture that moved me into action.
I write this as a fellow traveler on the road to health. I began by establishing a goal weight and a time frame. Cutting back on carbs, riding my bike 5 days a week, and tracking my progress on the My Fitness Pal and Map My Ride apps have helped me to drop over 40 pounds in the past 5 years.




Rest can renew our soul. It is one of the Ten Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath day
by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Yet it is the one that many Christ followers, including those in the ministry, ignore the most.

Set some boundaries with your cell phone and email on your day off and during vacation. If we don’t protect our schedule, no one else will.




Has anyone else experienced what Lewis Grant describes as “Sunset Fatigue?” This is when we come home from work, and those who need our love the most end up getting the leftovers. We detach and zone out. To leap ahead in this area we need to be ambitious about the things that last.

In addition to time with family, we need to prioritize a daily time with God. I was hit hard by this prophetic warning by Banning Liebscher, “If you love the spotlight more than the secret place, you’re in trouble, because it means you care more about pleasing people than pleasing God.”

One of the most important ways we can do this is through prioritizing a daily time with God.




One of my favorite lines when I coach church leadership teams is that “you can’t keep adding without subtracting or delegating.” In order to recalibrate, we need to address our overload.

Several years ago I pulled back from most of my lower tier commitments. God, family, work and serving held the top tiers, but I let go of fantasy football, cable television and multiple volunteer committees that created death by meetings.

Sometimes we can find ourselves in life and ministry perpetuating cycles that are not very effective. What are the things you need to let go of? John Maxwell said, “You have to give up to go up.”



We were designed to live life in healthy relationships. One of the priorities I have is a group of men I meet with on Thursday morning. We help each other gain Kingdom perspective and encouragement when times are challenging. These men are what Sam Chand defines as PAIN PARTNERS. As you look for friends like this, Sam Chand suggests you can identify this through these qualities:

  • Who in your life “gets you” and doesn’t think you’re weak or strange when you wrestle with the complexities of your role?
  • Who asks second and third questions to draw you out instead of giving pat answers, simple prescriptions, and easy formulas?
  • Who listens to you without feeling compelled to give you advice?
  • Who is your safe haven so you can be completely honest and open?
  • Who fills your spiritual and emotional gas tank?



Good Grief!

It’s probably Charlie Brown’s most notable saying: “Good Grief.” It comes at times when he is exasperated. We have these sayings to give expression to moods and feelings. We say them when there’s really nothing more to say.

Along with Charlie’s notable saying is the song, “Christmas Time,” which really goes along with the mood. It’s melancholy and gray – anything but the expected anticipation and celebration that comes with Christmas. Of course, in the animated classic, the whole story line takes an upturn when Linus quotes Luke’s Christmas narrative.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the Christmas blues are not so easily resolved.

Our Grief

Put simply, grief is a response to loss. Most often grief is associated with death. However, we have observed people grieve over many different types of losses. The loss of health, a job, a marriage, or even an opportunity are among a long list of circumstances that can elicit a grief response. David McGee identifies, “No two people will grieve the same, but there are similarities. As individuals, we can complicate the grief experience by a lack of understanding concerning grief and how loss interacts with our present lives.” (McGee, “Living After Death”) Here are a few thoughts about processing loss.

Bad Grief

Although there is not a set pattern for proper grief, we can see several ways that grief can be considered “bad:”

Denying/avoiding grief: occurs by immersing oneself in activity or distracting oneself to the extent that they don’t consciously think about their loss.

Premature termination of grief: is urged by people who try to determine for a grieving person when enough time has passed, and that the grieving person should now move on or get over their loss.

Unresolved grief: can be experienced when one lives in unabated depression or by building one’s identity on the loss they have experienced.

Good Grief

Some might ask “can grief be good?” I believe the answer most definitely is “yes.” Grief is a necessary expression to help us process our loss. If we grieve well, we have a better chance of regaining emotional and spiritual homeostasis. We can make the most of grief if we:

Let it out: in the book “ToughLove,” David & Phyllis York identify a principle that resonates with experience: “To postpone a crisis is to intensify it.” So it is with grief. If we delay or deny our need to grieve, we do ourselves harm in the long run. I think the words of Jesus, taken quite literally, are worth considering: “Blessed are those who mourn.”

Share it with a trusted friend: the best kind of friend during grief is one who listens patiently, offers advice rarely, challenges only when necessary, and is empathetic consistently. Some grief work will of necessity be done alone, while another side of grief work is done in companionship, absent platitudes and clichés. In his transparent journey through the loss of his wife, C.S. Lewis wrote “Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.” (C.S. Lewis, “A Grief Observed”) I think that Lewis is referring to religious clichés that fail to bring comfort because the hearer is either emotionally numb or in pain when they are spoken. A good friend has more substance to offer than trite truisms.

Give yourself permission to have bad days: there is no timetable for grief. Memories and the emotions that they elicit are as unpredictable as a breeze. A holiday, a phrase or sound, and even a scent can bring an unexpected memory crashing into our consciousness. I was at Walmart a few weeks back and was knocked back on my heels when I saw a woman pushing a cart who looked like my mother. I was unprepared for the dry throat that a glimpse of a stranger would bring. A file that I thought was closed had been reopened, and my grief work continued for an hour. In a strange way I welcomed the grief as it refreshed my memory…grief is unpredictable and unusual.

Give yourself permission to have good days: at times people feel bad for feeling good again. But a new normal will and should emerge, and that new normal will include the memories and the absence of the loved one. It’s ok to be ok with these realities.

As we enter the Christmas season, it is inevitable that some will be facing the holidays with a sense of loss. Our prayer is that you may find comfort and peace during a time of year that seems unsympathetic to your grief. May you experience the dawning light* of His presence (Matthew 4:16).

*I have to say that this metaphor used by Isaiah resonates with me. Dawning light is gradual, not uncomfortably sudden. It brings warmth and comfort. It brings hope. It is set in the context of “those who sat in the region of the shadow of death.” It’s a good thought, and a good promise.

May you experience the dawning light of His presence (Matthew 4:16).


Joy to the World

The festivities of the holiday season are always filled with fun, joy and excitement as we gather with friends and family to celebrate God’s gift of salvation to us through the incarnation of the Son of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. In the growing secularism of our culture, the importance of sharing the story of Jesus’ birth cannot be overstated.

When preparing for the TV show, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Charles Schulz stated, “If it’s to be a Christmas special, I want to certainly deal with the true meaning of Christmas.”* He was so right! He was determined to have the story told through the reciting of the Scripture passage because people needed to be reminded what Christmas is all about. The producer, Bill Melendez, stated that Schulz said, “Bill, if we don’t do it, who else can? We are the only ones who can do it.”* We in the church can heed the advice of Mr. Schulz. If we do not share the true meaning of Christmas, who will?

The gifts we receive and give, the decorating of the tree, the music and the abundance of food we enjoy point us to the greatest gift ever given. But without the story of Jesus’ birth, all the rest becomes an excuse to relish in extravagance. We embrace this wonderful celebration because it points us to the amazing grace of God which is simply Christ!

This time of year provides us with the opportunity to reflect on God’s gift of Salvation which gives us a new start. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Whether we think of our new life in Christ, a new year that is ahead, or some new endeavor, Christ gives us the chance to begin again, to have a new start. Perhaps there is something you have looked forward to seeing accomplished but have not gotten around to it. I do not personally make New Year’s resolutions, but I do like to take this time to reflect and refocus on the issues that are dear to my heart. What do you want the Lord to help you accomplish this next year? May I encourage you to complete the sentence, “With God’s help, this is my year to…” Make this a matter of prayer and begin to establish the action steps needed to see this fulfilled. 2017 can be the greatest year of your life, if you establish Christ as the center and order your world around His priorities.

*Quotes from: A Charlie Brown Christmas-The making of a Tradition, by Lee Mendelson with reminiscences by Bill Melendez.


Don’t Quit

When Pastor KR Mele sensed the Lord’s call to undertake a coast-to-coast bike ride to share Christ’s love and raise support for a few worthy causes, he didn’t even own a bike. Believing God’s word “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” he and a friend took off on a journey of a lifetime

Climbing mountains will test your endurance. Whether on foot, pedaling a bike or overcoming mental hurdles, mountains (challenges) come in a variety of sizes, but the fact remains, no matter how high one is, you still must climb it. As my 74 year old friend and I pedaled from Santa Monica, California to St. Augustine, Florida over 38 days, the highest elevation we would climb would be 8,228 feet in New Mexico…and what a wild ride down the other side, 17 miles of S-turns travelling at speeds upward of 40-45 MPH. More than anything on our ride across country, the mountains tested our endurance. But as I was told in San Diego on Day 2 from an experienced biker, this trip was 5% physical and 95% mental. Isn’t that true in life and ministry as well?

The apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:8) Paul calls this race we’re in a “good fight,” and the goal is to finish it by “keeping the faith.” A fight is never easy, no matter how you look at it.  But this fight is worth it, that’s why it’s called a “good fight.” Every day we need the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the temptations that will try and blindside us and make us want to quit. Here are some promises that should keep us climbing.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22, 23

‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.  Zechariah 4:6

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (do not give up).” Galatians 6:9

Continuing this “fight of faith” to the very end takes endurance. Have you ever heard someone say, “God will not give you more than you can handle?” Don’t believe it! Many believe this is found in God’s Word, but it really isn’t. It’s possible that it gets confused with 2 Corinthians 10:13 that says, “…God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” It’s true, God will not allow us to experience more temptation than we are able to bear, but God usually gives us “more than we can handle,” because if we could handle it ourselves, we wouldn’t need Him.


KR and Harold Morgan set to take off on their journey of a lifetime in Southern California.

Our endurance should come from the Lord and a realization that the resurrection power of Jesus Christ lives in us as believers and followers of Jesus Christ. He is our Endurance! The verse we chose for our “Coast 2 Coast 4 Jesus” journey was “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) But to truly understand this verse, my eyes must travel to verse 11 where Paul says, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” To have endurance, we must first learn how to be content. Content with who we are, where we are and what we’re facing. Psalm 121 became engraved on my heart as I climbed mountains on my Giant Defy Composite bike. I would quote it out loud to remind me of where my strength comes from. It gave me strength to face every challenge that came my way. Here is how it begins…

“I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1, 2

 Let’s not neglect our time with the Lord. If we do, we could find ourselves discontented and lacking endurance. I pray the Lord gives us strength to endure and never give up. Remember, it’s worth the fight!


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