The Month of April

4/2 "Imitators of Christ" (Ephesians 5:1-9)
4/9 "Be the Family" (1 Corinthians 1:4-5b)
4/16 The Color of Easter #HisLoveMatters
4/23 "Power of His Touch" (Luke 5:12-16)
4/30 "Responding to Rejection" (Luke 9:51-56)

To say that the month of April 2017 was a powerful time in which God did an incredible work through our ministry, would be a serious understatement. Not only were several barriers and dividing walls knocked down, but the glory of God's presence was made known and experienced by both believers and those new to the faith. The name of Jesus Christ was proclaimed before an audience of hundreds of people, as three different ministries and congregations came together to lift His Name on high...

Leading up to our grand Easter event, the three of our churches were so blessed to experience three different sermons; one from each of our 3 leading Pastors. For two weeks our pastors rotated, so that each congregation could become better acquainted with the Pastors and their families. But this rotation served an even greater purpose; we were blessed to listen to and take in an even bigger perspective of what Easter Sunday is truly all about. During this time our own head Pastor, Ajai Prakash, would travel to and preach at the other 2 churches involved in the Easter Service. 
 

Imitators of Christ

Pastor Rod Dooley (head Pastor of Oakhill Jackson Community Church) and his wife visited us first, and brought forth the message of imitating Christ Jesus, and how we are called to be in His likeness. Pastor Dooley delivered his sermon with such grace, compassion and testimony. He not only gave us biblical instruction and wisdom, but he shared his own life's relation to imitation. He opened up to us and shared how he'd imitate his own father growing up, and could only do this by spending more time with him. He drew the connection for us back into imitating the life of Jesus by explaining the importance of walking in the Spirit and living a life that glorifies and represents Christ in every facet. 

Be the Family

Our second guests were Pastor Daniel Wynn (head Pastor of Cedar Rapids Family Church) along with his wife their daughter. Pastor Wynn made it a point to declare that in Christ we are all family. He was able to draw the bold line in the sand between the lies and truths for those of us in the body of Christ. 

He gave us this diagram:
World view: Believe 》Become 》Belong
Truth: Belong 》Believe 》Become

IN CHRIST WE ARE ALL FAMILY! We must believe and embrace this truth. 

The major highlight of the month would come the following Sunday, April 16. After we as a church body gathered for our Good Friday Service, the stage was set for us to take part in delivering the greatest news this world has ever heard. The message of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection and His Salvation from eternal death. No longer are we bound to chains of sin, flesh and death. Freedom has come and ALL captives can be saved!

The Color of Easter

April 16 1.jpg

Our Easter Sunday Service was held at the Double Tree Hotel in Cedar Rapids, IA. All three churches (The Well, Oakhill Jackson, CRFC) came together, with all three worship bands and all three Pastors sharing the same stage for one great purpose. I want to help draw the picture to better illustrate how monumental this time was, and why it's such an important matter for the body of Christ to continue in this path. 

From first look, our three churches are very different, especially in regards to the cultural aspects. Even our pastors who, being very closely unified under God, come from such different backgrounds. If I may be so bold to say this, our churches are completely different on a racial and cultural level. Some would call Oakhill the "black church" and identify CRFC as the "white church". Then when characterizing The Well, they'd most likely call us the "mismatched church". But during this time in our nation and even the world, it was crucial for us to break through these racial and cultural barriers that separate us as people. As three churches we came together representing ONE COLOR and ONE NAME! We all bleed RED, whether you are brown, black, white, pink, yellow... etc. IN TRUTH, God's people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, gender, culture, background... But all are covered by the blood of JESUS. For this reason we can stand together as one people, praising the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

Hundreds of people attended this Easter Service and there's a video recap, recorded and broadcasted by the Fox 28 News Station. This was a divine and Spirit driven moment in time for us, as well as all those who were touched by it. The message, the worship, response and result(s)... to God be the glory! For He was the reason for it and was the driving force behind it all! 

Moving forward it is safe to say that if it be God's will, all 3 of these pastors and their congregations will continue working together to achieve even greater things for the glory of the Lord! 

The Power of His Touch

Responding to Rejection

The weeks following our Easter Service, our focus at The Well remained plugging in as team and praising God for all He's been doing throughout our ministry. The life of Jesus being our absolute focus, as Pastor Ajai preached back-to-back sermons from the book of Luke. First, focusing on the touch of Jesus, then turning to His response to the rejection Jesus faced throughout His ministry and life. 

God has now opened new doors for opportunites of service. We, as a team, will continually pursue the expansion of God's Kingdom and give new waters of life to the dead and dry lands of our cities, states and nation.

Can The Gospel Go Viral?

Has the Gospel of the Lord lost its power? Has it become nothing more than ancient, no-longer-relevant to our lives today? Or is it the church which has lost its way? What will it take to see the Word of GOD spread like wildfire throughout today's society?

If we turn to 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 we are given a better depiction of God's Word, being preached and heard, bringing forth a great break-through for the city of Thessalonica. Did they have something that God's people today lack? Why or how did the Gospel bring about such transformation, testimony, power... which all appear to be missing today? Let's first examine the FAITH of the Thessalonians. "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God our Father;" (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

The faith of God's people in Thessalonica during this time was seen through their lives. Not just their words, but their works (everything they were doing). Where is the faith of God's people today? How do we present (represent) God's Word in our lives to those not in the church? Maybe the best question to ask, is the Gospel only written on the surface of our brains, or is it engraved on our hearts?

"For our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost..." (1 Thessalonians 1:5a). If the Gospel was simply just the written words of God, there'd be no power! However, thanks be to God that He's also imparted His Holy Spirit upon His beloved; and when the Word goes forth with the Spirit, there is true power and it does not return void. That's when the fullness of the Gospel of Christ is present and it "breaks through"!

Now if we walk in our faith, exercising it through all facets in our life and preaching the Gospel in the power of the Spirit; is this all that is needed for us to see God's Word go viral in today's society, changing and transforming the people of entire cities, states, countries....? The truth is there's still more to it!

Existing idols must be cast down in our lives. We must direct our souls in such a way, that the only focus of our worship is God. Only then will the power of God be evident in our church and in us as individuals.

THE Higher Calling of Discipleship

The major theme of this year, for our ministry at The Well, has been Discipleship. This week's message, "Higher Calling of Discipleship", was a great reminder of this.

If we turn to God's word, Luke 6:27-28, Jesus paints the picture of what that higher calling entails. The word of the day, that I think several of us were left with, was Agapé. "Christian love, especially as distinct from erotic love or emotional affection". This is the type of love that Jesus is instructing us to have towards all people in the world. We are called to "love our enemies, do good to those who hate us". Speaking for many of us, I would claim that this is one of the most difficult instructions of the Lord that we are to live out in our lives. See, God's calling upon our lives is not one which is easy to fulfill. In fact, without God working in our lives and transforming us our hearts, it's impossible.

The world would tell us, "treat others the way you want to be treated" or "an eye for an eye". But God holds His people to a higher standard/calling, in loving those who hate or attack us. "Bless those who curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you" (Luke 6:28). However, the Lord knows how difficult this is can be, but He's given us His Son Jesus as our prime example. Even at the time of His own crucifixion, Jesus still lived out the Higher Calling. "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do..." (Luke 23:34). Therefore, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must also live out this Higher Calling placed upon our lives. No matter what circumstances may bring, we must love people of the world as God loves all of us. Loving ALL people, not just those who love us, but even those who persecute or hate us. Then going a step even further and not only loving them, but praying for them also.

Speaking for myself, I know how hard this can seem. It almost seems easier to hold onto the resentment, anger, pain and hatred, rather than letting go and going the extra mile to love those who have wronged us. But in reality, the weight of the bitterness and resentment is what will crush us. When we embrace and love all people as God's people, then we are free from all baggage, and we are able to better experience God's love in our own lives. 

We were blessed as a church in this time to have service at Jack and Shirley's home. Huge thanks goes out to them and God for opening their home to all of us! After the morning service, we were able to gather and enjoy a Sunday fellowship lunch together. 

In the evening we had the Extra mile group, where many of the young adults in our ministry can come together, praying and digging even deeper for the Lord. During this specific time, we were able to reflect/rehash the morning message from church , both collectively and individually. We were even able to record each of our own personal take-aways from the message. It was nerve-wracking at first, as several of us weren't too thrilled about being on camera. But once things started rolling, we all were able to to present our own unique perspectives on the message. It was powerful! If you're connected to our ministry via Facebook, you can actually check out Kim's short summarization of the message as well as Luke's summarization. (The Well of IA, or The Elim Arrival)

This up coming Sunday, our service will be located at the Coralville Rec Center. It begins at 9:45 am. We'd love to see you there!

Awesome God

So often, those of us in the church and/or heavily involved with ministry, find ourselves surrounded by life's many problems. We see the constant trials and tribulations of the world we live in. Experiencing sickness, pain, depression, loss, conflict, broken homes or families and so many other "setbacks" in our daily lives; we become so much more focused on these things and they overshadow the joy and greatness of God. As God's people, we are called to lift our hands and praise or bless God (Psalm 141:2). How often do we genuinely look beyond all of the daunting and troubling obstacles in our lives, praising God for His awesomeness? How do we "lift up our hands and bless the Lord" as the psalmist instructs, when such turmoil and heart ache plague us? 

During our Sunday service, Pastor Ajai preached a sermon explaining, in greater depth, the Awesome God we serve. The passage can be found in Deuteronomy 4:32-40. Moses is addressing God's people whom He brought out from Egypt. Moses is reflecting to the people of the miraculous wonders done by God to protect them, and deliver them out of the fire and out of the hands of their enemies. The incredible lengths the Lord went to in order to insure the survival and preservation of His people, should all serve as reminders for all those of us who choose to cling onto Him today. Just as God was faithful during the time of Moses, we too can trust in the Lord our God. Even in the midst of absolute desolation, we have an AWESOME GOD and there is no one else like Him (Deut. 4:35, 39)

No matter what's going on in our lives, none of it changes the awesomeness and sovereignty of God. So long as we are faithful to Him and abide in His ways, the Lord will bring us out of the pits of darkness that so often seem to swallow us. And He will do it, not because He needs us or because of something we've done, but because He is an awesome God with an awesome love for His people.

There were a few new attendees this service. We were all encouraged seeing less familiar faces and hear them voicing their needs for prayer. Even after hearing a number of hardships and cries being lifted up in Christ's body; through song, prayer and the preaching of God's word, it was an especially powerful time of healing and worship. 

After the church service, several of us went out to the Lake Mcbride State Park and took advantage of the beautiful warm weather. The nine of us spent time bonding together, not just as a people who do church together once a week. We were bonding together as a family going out on a celebratory picnic, and it was a very enjoyable time for everyone who got to partake. The funny thing is that it was all put together in the spur of the moment when Maureena (Pastor's wife) had a simple idea of us all going outside and having lunch together. I, for one, am very glad she made mention of her idea! It was a great meal and a fun time spent with the people God has made family. 

In the evening, many of us gathered for The Extra Mile (Young Adults Group) where Sunny helped prepare us for the upcoming Easter event, that our ministry of The Well is heading up. The major point in all of this is that #HisLoveMatters and during this time we were able to better establish the objective and theme we have for this Easter Event. Why does His love matter? Well, because even in a world where there's so much division and separation over race, sexual orientation, gender, political views or economic status... we ALL bleed the same. Your blood is the same color as mine, no matter the several other things that set us apart or make us different. We all bleed red. Even more importantly, Jesus bled to bring us all together and save everyone from eternal death. It doesn't matter what skin colour, sexually orientation, gender, nationality...etc you may have. Christ's blood was the same color as every other man or woman on earth, and it was shed for every single one of us.

Revive Me Conference 2016

This is a date that we had been looking forward to for a long time.  Our vision and mission has been saturated with this theme and cry to God for personal revival. 

This weekend was the weekend we wanted all the churches whom we had visited and been able to serve, come together and cry out to God for personal revival and healing for our nation. 

In all honesty, the quantity of people who showed up was not what we had hoped for, but the quality of the weekend was powerful and authentic because God showed up

We thank Pastor Daniel and Cedar Rapids Family Church for coming out and joining us. We thank Pastor Dooley and Oakhill Jackson Community Church for coming out and joining us. What you guys brought as a church was faithfulness and power. You sparked a flame in me over the weekend that has not run out to this day. We are overwhelmingly thankful for our beloved pastor and his wife. Thank you so much for all your sacrifice, love, long suffering, and faithfulness to God. Without your obedience to God, many of us would be on much different paths in life at this time. 

This weekend we cried out to God. What else are we to do in such times and difficulties? O Lord, we lift up our hand holding a mustard seed of faith, clenching our fist and proclaim that we believe but help us with our unbelief. We thank You for Your abundant mercy that is without partiality but in fullness. You are our hope when our life is a mess. You are the rest in the wilderness. 

If you come upon this post, pray for us as we continue to move forward and do the work of God. We are a church that is few, with many of us walking around with wounds from our past sins and a weakness of heart from our short comings. We may have many shortcomings and we may be broken, but we have a hope that is unbreakable, unmovable, and everlasting. We press on, forgetting what is behind and strive ahead for the upward call of God.

Remember church, great change does not come without great struggle. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees, rise and proclaim: “Still I Will Follow.” We are thankful to all who have supported us in this last year and look forward to this next year. Be blessed.

-On behalf of The Well of Iowa and The Elim Arrival

Oakhill Jackson Community Church: Knowing God’s Heartbeat

On October 8, 2016 the Elim Arrival teamed up with Oakhill Jackson Community Church for a time of worship and celebration of Oakhill Jackson’s anniversary.

OakhillJacksonCC-Oct8.png

Oakhill Jackson has been a body of people that we are so thankful for this year. God brought us together for something really special in this season, and we are so thankful.

A small church hidden in downtown Cedar Rapids linking up with a small church hidden in downtown Coralville.  It has been absolutely beautiful to hear the heart of others in the body of Christ, and to be unified together.

This night specifically was one that was special because it was the first night that we joined together as one and worshipped God together. Pastor Ajai of The Well preached very powerfully on knowing the heartbeat of God. We sang. We cried. We prayed. We came together. 

In a day with so much division within the church, we went against the grain and locked arms.  Difference does not mean division. Different strategy does not mean different mission. We want to personally thank Pastor Dooley of Oakhill Jackson Community Church for his humility, power and love. 

Thank you for having us out and we look forward to the plan that God has for our churches in the future.  Be blessed.

-On behalf of The Well of Iowa and The Elim Arrival

The Bridge Church: Fighting

On October 2-3, 2016 the Elim Arrival was given the opportunity to return to our friends at the Bridge Church in Dubuque, Iowa.

This time included a main event on Saturday night and two services on Sunday morning.  Pastor Travis of The Bridge Church spoke very powerfully on a topic that I have never heard spoken on before. He talked to his congregation about “how to fight.”  Often we think that fighting is considered a bad thing, but it itself is not necessarily bad--it is how we handle our fights.

 He mentioned different types of fighting personalities that we see in people and there was one that stuck out to me because it was the description that I fit into. The person he was describing is the one who always tries to avoid conflict at any costs. I know when I am confronted with conflict or know that there is imminent conflict on the way, I get really shaken up.

There are other types of people as well; some of them are on the polar opposite. There are other people who always stir up conflict, and they are the ones who always have to be “right.”  Unfortunately, because of this lack of discipline and maturity in knowing how to fight in a Godly manner, I have seen many people leave the church, and I have also hurt many people. 

As the body of Christ we need to learn how to go about conflict in such a way that we can remain unified. People are going to be people--which means we are going to hurt each other at times.  We are going to disagree on things that may never be compromised. We are going to leave scars and be scarred. 

Let us grow in maturity and love for one other, rather than allowing our disputes to rip us apart.  Let us remember these words from 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

We are thankful for our brothers and sisters at The Bridge Church for having us out and allowing us to do what we love and fulfill the call God has on our life. Be blessed.

-On behalf of The Well of Iowa and The Elim Arrival

Bash@CR: He Is Our Refuge

On September 25, The Elim Arrival had the opportunity to join many other artists and the community in a night of music, food and worship. The week leading up to this event was quite hectic as Cedar Rapids prepared for the second worst flood in city history. 

The rising water levels almost lead to a cancelling of the entire event, but by God’s grace, we were able to move the event to Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. Driving into the parking lot to enter the event, you found many people in the community working hard to put together sand bags to help prevent flood damage.

A band coming out of Nashville, put together by the former bass guitarist of the Newsboys, was the headliner of the night. Zealand Worship closed off the night after our friends White Ribbon Day, who had played after us.

In all honesty, I was quite moved by Zealand Worship.  So often, there can be this type of “competition” in ministry that I find to be very detrimental. It distracts from the entire point of what the ministry of Christ is about but Zealand brought something that night that was so authentic and true.

Lyrics from their song ‘That’s who You Are,’ 

“You are the rest for the weary

The hope and the healer

God above all things

That's who You are

You are the truth that is standing

When the world is changing

You are forever

Lord of it all.”

I found this song to be filled with such truth and a great reminder of who God is. So often we can be so distracted by the “floods” in our life. Cedar Rapids was expecting major flood damage, but we prayed. The damage ended up being so much less than expected - we prayed.

There are many things to fear in this life and many floods that may be on their way to you - pray. Jesus is the Truth that is standing, when the world is changing. He is the Lord of it all. 

-On behalf of The Well of Iowa and The Elim Arrival