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A Response to Racism

A RESPONSE TO RACISM
by Adam Alexander

A couple of weeks ago I was flipping through the channels and came across the old Cuba Gooding Jr. movie, Men of Honor.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  But just for a quick overview, the story is about Carl Brashear who was the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver.  He fought against extreme racial prejudice to graduate from the program and become a Master Diver.  While I watched this movie, my son Jonathan (born in Uganda) came up to me and gave me a hug.  As I hugged him and watched this movie, tears began to roll down my face as I rejoiced in the fact that Carl Brashear paved the way for my son to pursue something like this in his future if that’s what he was to choose.  It was a sweet moment of victory in my mind.  I loved being able to look at my son and think that thanks to the fights of people like Carl Brashear, Jackie Robinson, Katherine Johnson, and countless others that he too can become whatever he wants to be in life.

But then the events in Charlottesville happened this week.

Here is the deal friends.  This is a Gospel issue.  There isn’t another way to put it.  This isn’t about politics or culture or preference or anything else.  The reason we should fight against racism and injustice is because it is a direct offense to the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is so counter to everything that God is about and everything that Jesus came to accomplish.  Since the very beginning God has been about all nations.  Literally every tribe, tongue, people, and race.  To claim racial superiority is directly opposed to the very heart of God.


The beauty of this is that it is pronounced all through God’s word.  Take for example what it says in Genesis 12:2-3.  I added the emphasis.

"And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

From the very beginning God declared that He was coming to redeem people from all the families of the earth!  He didn’t make any distinctions based on race, ethnicity, culture, intellect, social class, finances. There isn’t a race that is more superior than others in the eyes of the redemptive plan of God!

What about Jesus? Check out what happens in John 4. Again, I added the emphasis.

"And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”  (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Jesus was on the front lines of breaking down racial tension.  Jews and Gentiles were in the center of that day’s racial tension.  But that didn’t matter to Jesus.  He didn’t let culture, history, politics, or anything else stand in the way of bridging the gap to fight for racial reconciliation.  He saw the value in people and he loved them.

We can’t stop there.  Let’s look at one of Paul’s letters, Ephesians.  It says this in chapter 2 with my emphasis added.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."

The chapter starts off saying that we are all dead in our trespasses and then continues to say these incredibly hopeful words.  Racial superiority has no place in the Gospel and in the eyes of Christ.  We are all, regardless of race, past, worth, status; dead in our trespasses.  But God made us alive in Him!

One more reference.  Let’s fast forward to the end of the story and what it will be like in heaven.  Here is what it says in Revelation 7.

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

At the culmination of history, we will all stand side by side worshipping a God who created us in His image.  From the very beginning to the very end God sees who we are and celebrates and redeems His creation.


When I think about all of this, it makes me hurt even deeper for what is happening in our country today.  God created us exactly as He wanted.  Diverse, intricate, and beautiful.  So, let’s fight for the very heart of God. 

It is time for the church to engage in the battle for racial reconciliation.  And it happens by being willing to ask questions and then actually listen to learn.  It happens by speaking up and speaking out against these direct assaults on the heart of God and the glorious goodness of the Gospel.  It happens by breaking cultural stereotypes and historical patterns.  It happens by seeking the heart of God and living into the Gospel in your own life.  It happens by banging on the doors of heaven for revival in our hearts, in our churches, in our neighborhoods, in our city, and in our country.

Let me say it clearly to close.  As believers, we are unequivocally against white supremacy, the alt-right, and any manifestation of racism.  And as believers we are unequivocally for Christ’s supremacy, the good news of the Gospel, and racial reconciliation.

Lord, please break our heart for what breaks yours and bring healing to our land.

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Remember

Remember by Orlando Cabrera


I returned from my Sabbatical last week.  It was a wonderful extended time away with my family. I couldn’t be more grateful to the Directing Elders of Summit for allowing me the opportunity to have some time away.

Heading into this time, I had desired to just enjoy time with my family and hope to hear or learn something radically fresh and new from God.  Well the time with my wife and kids was nothing short of amazing! But I would be lying if I didn’t say there were moments of restlessness because, well, I hadn’t heard this amazing, revolutionary word from God. Yes, I read my Bible, prayed, journaled and even had the opportunity to visit five different churches in three different states.  All the churches we went to and services we worshiped in were all wonderful, but still I wouldn’t say I got this mountain top, burning bush revelation.  I left each service encouraged and grateful for God’s grace. 

And then, on the last Sunday of our vacation my kids and I were walking out of a great church in South Carolina before heading back to Florida, and I turned to my son and said, “Hey Max, wasn’t that an awesome service?”  He says excitedly, “Oh yeah!”  Then I asked him, “Did you learn anything new?”  He says, “Nope, but it’s really good to be reminded of what I already know. I really like that too Dad!”

And there it was, like a light bulb finally being turned on after stumbling about in a dark room trying to find a switch; it finally hit me.  I was not granted “new” information or some mountain type revelation per se, but boy was God so gracious to remind me of some things I had already known and either forgotten or allowed to grow stale in my heart. 

See, my son was right, being reminded as a child of God of what we already know is a good thing and I would press even further and say it’s essential to our continual spiritual growth.  Now we certainly don’t want to stop learning, but just think about how God’s Word calls us to remember…Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 8 verse 2

 “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” 

Solomon towards the end of his life gives a similar encouragement in Ecclesiastes chapter 12 verse 1

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them” 

There are many more references in the Bible where we as God’s children are called to remember. 


So here’s an encouragement and challenge- let’s keep reflecting on what we have learned and in our reflecting on what we have learned, may our awe and worship of God grow.  May our reflection bring us to a renewed and right view of our great God who is worthy of our lives and worship.

I have some more to share, and possibly will over the next couple of days with a follow-up post. But for now let me ask you the following:

1. What are you in jeopardy of forgetting about God today? 

2. What is it that you need to recount to yourself about God’s steadfast love, about His grace and mercy that has been shown to you in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

 I pray you will take a moment to reflect on some this and in doing so, thank God for who He is and what He has already done for you.  We should keep desiring new moments of fresh word, but let’s not forsake what we know…

”Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,”  Isaiah 46:9

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New Facility in Gateway

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UPDATE: OUR FIRST SERVICE AT OUR NEW FACILITY WILL TAKE PLACE ON SUNDAY AUGUST 13TH AT 10AM!

Located at:
12941 Express Court, Fort Myers, FL 33913


A quick glance around our current space in Gateway will tell you that Gartner is more than ready to move in and build the space out according to their specifications. The spaces around us are already empty, the sidewalks are cut and the parking lot is filling up with building supplies.

The good news is that much progress is being made at our new facility! During this next week or so, they’ll begin to take our AV equipment, lights and speakers in order begin installing them at the new building. Right now, the target date for us to move in is the weekend of August 13th! 

So with that in mind, here’s what we we're asking you to consider and pray for.

1.) Pray for the continued progress of our space and that everything will stay on track. 

2.) Pray that we can be a blessing and a gospel representation to the developers (Seagate) and to Gartner who is taking over our current space. 

3.) Pray that God would continue to help us in our search for a permanent location for our Naples congregation.

4.) And finally ask the Lord that we would be faithful to use this new space in Gateway to train, equip and disciple God’s people to live on mission in the places we live, work and play. All for his glory.

Thank you for your prayers and partnership in the gospel.

-Joe O'Neal

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Journey Camp Photo Blog

Here's a bunch of pics from our Summit Students trip to Lake Placid last week!

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Christ Together - Reach America

Christ Together is one of our Xpansion partners. They aim to unify the Church to consistently demonstrate and communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to every man, woman, and child in America.

We also were instrumental in helping to form this network nearly 10 years ago. They help churches collaborate and work together to saturate their cities with the gospel.

This summer, Christ Together is asking partner churches to take a special offering to plant churches in some cities around the United States that have high needs for planting gospel centered churches, yet low funding to get them started. 

This request is right in line with who we are and what we want to see happen in our community, our region, our nation and around the world.

If you would like to give towards this initiative, you can make a contribution to Summit and put 'Christ Together' in the memo line.

Thank you for your partnership in the gospel as seek to reach every man, woman and child!

 

 

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UPDATE FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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UPDATE FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

We are just over halfway through our time in the Dominican Republic serving alongside our partners LoveServes and "El Refugio" Church in the community of Haina. 

It has been an incredible experience so far as we have been able to serve in many ways from construction to children's and women's ministry. 

Three years ago we began pouring the foundation for a 6,000 sqft Trade School that was born out of the vision God gave Pastor Julio and the team here in Haina. Currently 35% of 18-25 year olds do not go to school or work in this community, and the Trade School will offer an opportunity to the young people to learn a trade and give them options outside of the gang lifestyles. Today we finished painting the interior of the finished first floor! It is set to officially open in the fall. 

We continue to to have amazing opportunities to share the hope of Christ with this community through outreach, children's and sports ministry, women's ministry and home visits. Though we have witnessed tragic poverty, the spirit of God is living and active in the people of Haina! We have learned so much about what it means to worship and love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength despite our circumstances. 

We feel blessed to be a part of this community for this week and hope to finish strong. 

PLEASE PRAY:
1. That our team would finish strong, staying connected to God as we minister to this community. 
2. That Pastor Julio and El Refugio would continue to be spurred on in their love and good work!
3. That LoveServes and Revision would be encouraged by their partners and that God would supply every need they have in Christ Jesus. 

Evan Lemkuil & Team

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Steadfast Love - Summer Series

Throughout scripture we see story after story reminding us of God’s faithfulness. In our series, Steadfast Love, we will be studying the Psalms and discovering how, through all of life’s circumstances, the love of God is unfailing, unrelenting, and steadfast.

Join us this summer, beginning June 3rd and 4th as we study select chapters in the book of Psalms.

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Easter Stories- Danielle & Diego

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Easter Stories- Danielle & Diego

In case you missed it, here are the stories we shared this past weekend on Easter. We're so encouraged by God's grace and love that calls people to himself and dramatically changes their lives.

We hope you're strengthened and encouraged as well.

 

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Gather - Live Worship Record

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We recently released a record entitled Gather: Live in the Living Room. The goal of this record was to capture the worship of the community who have been meeting regularly in our living room for the past three years. More than just the songs, we wanted to record every part of a worship night in the living room setting—everything from how the worship leaders led the group, to how those present engaged. As you can imagine, capturing every moment (down to the raw, unfiltered, even sometimes awkward moments) in a living room setting was quite the undertaking. At times in the process we weren’t even sure going in how the project was going to turn out!

At Summit, we’re convinced that whatever God wants to do in the world today, He wants to do through all of His people, not just through a select few leaders. We’re convinced that every believer is called to minister to the Lord, utilize their gifts in ministry to others, and to intercede for the lost, broken and those that need healing in our city, nation and world. We believe that as leaders, it’s our highest call to train, equip, and empower every believer to do those very things.

As we think of applying this to worship and the gathering, a passage of Scripture we often come back to is found in 1 Corinthians 14:26:

“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”

Paul in this passage is stating that when we gather as the church, each person brings something of merit to the table. Some would teach, some would bring a prophetic word, some would speak in tongues—others would interpret, and some would lead singing and prayer. All of this would be done in love and for the encouragement and building up of the body. 

At the same time, Paul certainly has a high view of the role of leadership and order in the gathering (see 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2 for example). He viewed leadership in the same way Jesus did—not as a means for domineering and commanding, but as the role of a servant.

When we set out to record Gather, we had all these things in mind. During the night we had a time where some folks shared testimonies of how the Lord was moving in their lives (which led to an unplanned song of thanksgiving in response), we had a moment where we all broke into groups and interceded for cities that were hurting around the world, and we had a time where we prayed for healing and relief from anxiety for those present. We believe all these elements are valuable when we gather. If all we do is sing together, then we’ve missed out on so much of the beauty of what it is for believers to commune with the Lord and with each other. 

We hope that as we present these elements in a raw, honest living room setting that other communities, small groups and families might have an example they could try for themselves. We hope and pray that wherever you and your community gathers, you would experience the presence of God alive and at work in your midst.

You can listen to/purchase the record in all the normal places, but you can also go to our website to find out how you can download free copy! 

Finally, we’d love to serve you in any way we can. If we can come and serve your community in your home, do email us and let us know if we can help lead a night of worship in your living room. 

Andy & Mathis

 

Andy Graham 

Mathis Turley

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God Is Faithful

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March 16, 2017
Well it’s been a two weeks since I was able to sit with my computer and lay out those things that have been impacting us since that time and what they mean for us and for our future. Some significant and dramatic changes have occurred since then and some things have remained the same, but only more so.


First, what has changed in these past few days? I no longer have a spleen; I no longer have the lower 1/3 of my pancreas; and, most significantly, I no longer have the golf ball size tumor that has been growing on my pancreas for some time. As we approached surgery, the medical experts believed that this tumor was in fact malignant but hopefully could be removed successfully. What they found was dramatically different than what was expected. There, sitting on the tail of my pancreas, was a type of cystic tumor that was totally benign. I asked the surgeon, a man approaching his 80’s who has probably done more pancreatic surgeries than most surgeons in the world, if this type of tumor was even in the running as to a possibility. He indicated that it was not and how pleasantly “surprised” he was to find it as opposed to what had been expected. So from a physical perspective, and my prognosis, I am absolutely fine with no restrictions as to living my life going forward once the healing process is complete. Diane and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity that the Lord has given us to continue to follow the plan He has set before us.


Second, however, and more dramatic, is what has not changed, but rather has been so brazened into my soul as to have created a new and greater resolve in the truth of who God is.
As I lay in my hospital bed watching patient after patient slowly shuffle though the halls following their surgeries, knowing that most did not have the surprise result that I had had but rather the result that was expected; one that provided very little future and hope for them, I pondered the question of the Faithfulness of God, and continued to ask myself the question of what I really believed about who He is.


A dear sister in Christ, whose son has experienced the ravaging of cancer that appears to have no good end, visited me in the hospital and was rejoicing with us in our great news. I was about to proclaim to her how Faithful God is and then I found my tongue cemented to the roof of my mouth as I realized that I was about to proclaim something that would be a fallacy because I was ascribing the Faithfulness of God to a desired result rather than to His character. I was guilty of ascribing a nature of God to His activity rather than to who He is. Was God Faithful to me because I was free of cancer and could live but unfaithful to her and her son because he may not? And so in those moments of a short visitation in my hospital room, something happened to burrow deep into my soul a truth that I have known, and taught, and preached and yet maybe never really understood. That no matter what, God Is Faithful, not because of what He does or does not do, but because that is who He is.


We so deeply appreciate how you have lifted us before the Lord in prayer during these tumultuous times and know that your prayers have indeed accomplished much in this process. Please pray for Ellen and her son Chris as they navigate through this difficult time and continue to pray that we would have an ever increasing resolve to be about all He has called us to do and to be so that, in so doing, we may bring honor and glory to Him.


With great joy and thankfulness in the Lord for who He is,
Jack & Diane

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Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey - by Jack and Diane Stinziano - March 5, 2017

The sun has just come up over the Inner Harbor here in Baltimore, Maryland where Diane and I await my upcoming surgery the day after tomorrow. It is with a great sense of peace that we are here, not that we know what the medical outcome will be, but in the knowledge that our Sovereign God knows the plans that He has for us, and that they are plans for our welfare, to give us a future and a hope. The specifics of His plan, well, those are not necessarily for us to know. If we did, we would likely do everything we could to take control and move it along in our timeframe to produce the result we think best. But that is not how God would have it. There was a song that we used to sing in church many years ago: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey”. Simple, often forgotten words and a simple recipe, and yet how enormously difficult to do, especially when we are forced to step out into the uncertain and the unknown.

God has brought us along on an amazing journey with Him these last few years. Our move to Rome was in response to what we unquestionably sensed God calling us to do. He developed in us a passion to see Italians come to a real saving faith in Jesus Christ and He gave us a heart to stand alongside those who had sacrificed so much to minister the Gospel to a people who had no desire to even hear it, much less live it. And although we did experience those whose lives were changed as we ministered to them, the real change; the most dramatic change, occurred in us. To live in an unfamiliar culture, alone and far away from the security of friends, family and what is comfortably reassuring, etches something in a person that indelibly remains, for the good or for the bad. James 1 reveals that the trials and testing of life can produce something good, if we allow them to; that the testing of our faith produces an endurance and if we let that endurance have its perfect result, then we will be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. So whether the result is good or bad all depends upon the choices we make in the midst of the trials. For us, many trials came from this almost daily battle between what life is like in this almost surreal environment, versus what life had been like before venturing out, untethered to anything that had been certain. Choices that are forced upon us by the circumstances we are confronted with; by the trials and tests that befall us along the way. And on that journey that little simple song begins to reveal such a complex truth that as we trust Him in the trial; as we obey Him in the trial, we become more and more as He would have us be and happiness and joy are the byproduct.

The trials and tests that we have encountered after making our move into the Italian culture should have been expected, in one form or another, but most, if not all, took us by surprise. After all, weren’t we trying to do something good that God had directed? First, Diane’s diagnosis of breast cancer and following bi lateral mastectomy. Then to return to Rome after her recovery only to find that our apartment had been burglarized and the majority of tangible wealth lost. Then Diane’s bout with chest pains and resulting heart catherization and stenting. Then my diagnosis of a tumor that necessitates the removal of the tail of my pancreas and my spleen. Then Diane’s torn meniscus in her knee confining her to a wheel chair in the midst of our physical move from Rome back to the U.S. None of these are noted as complaints but rather as exercises in our training of endurance. Each have given us opportunity after opportunity to make a choice; to trust and obey, or not; to allow them to produce something good, or not. I wish that I could say that through these trials we have always and immediately embraced the right choice; in many instances it took some time for us to get around to allowing endurance to have its perfect result. But when we did, and do, then the joy of knowing that God is doing His work in us is, and can be, like no other.

We face this upcoming surgery with a resolve that its result will be for our good and that it is all part of the plan that God has for us.

We want to encourage you to run the race that He has set before you, trusting Him, the author and the finisher of faith. We would covet your prayers for us that we do the same; that we finish the course that He has set before us in a way that not only positions us for becoming who He wants us to be, but gives Him the Glory He so definitely deserves.

Thank you and may He richly bless you and cause His grace to overshadow you.

Jack & Diane

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Ignite Service Weekend Recap

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Ignite Service Weekend Recap

Our college ministry FGCU Ignite spent this past weekend serving our community in a variety of ways. Motivated by the love of Christ, they served several of our Every Child Initiative families and helped out a ministry partner of ours in Downtown Fort Myers.

Here are a few photos of the weekend. We're excited to see how God continues to use these students to impact our community and the campus of FGCU for the gospel. 

 

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Taking Action Against Human Trafficking

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We were encouraged to have so many of our church and community participate in our forum on Human Trafficking this past Sunday. We wanted to take a moment to share some of the tangible action steps we can take to combat this travesty.

1.) Visit our Xpansion partners who are on the front lines of this battle. Support them in the fight.

The Porch Light

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2.) Sign your name to the petition to fund the 'End Modern Slavery Initiative'. Doing so will alert your congress person and the president that you desire action to be taken on behalf of the vulnerable.

End Modern Slavery Initiative

3.) Store the phone number of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in your mobile device and call anytime you see something suspicious. 1 (888) 373-7888 (also send SMS messages)

4.) Pray. We know that the Father cares for the vulnerable. Pray that he would intervene and that the gospel of Jesus Christ would go forward through his church and bring light into the darkest of places.

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Returning from Nicaragua

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Returning from Nicaragua

Last week Jim Hines and I had the privilege of visiting with our covenant members, and now 'sent missionaries', Al and Sarah Gomez.

Last August, our church commissioned and sent Al and Sarah to the city of Estelli, Nicaragua. We traveled with Jordan Stinziano from Saturation Church Planting (SCP) who envisions, equips and empowers local, indigenous leaders for what it looks like to reach their nation with the good news of the gospel of Jesus. 

The goal of this trip was to meet with some of the pastors Al has made contact with and to invite them into the process of accomplishing God’s preferred vision for both their country, and for all Central America. At Summit, we believe that vision is for every man, woman, and child to have repeated opportunities to hear, see, and respond to the gospel lived out through the lives of the church in the places they live, work, and play. 

I also had the joy of training a number of worship leaders, among whom there is the heart and potential to see the culture of Nicaragua changed. Worship catalogs and gives voice to God’s current activity, but it also catalyzes and envisions the church for God’s preferred future in our lives and in our world.

As I sat in the Gomez's home with these young women and men, I couldn’t help but dream of what God desires to do through their lives in that nation and in all of Central America; the injustice that they would contend against, the spiritual strongholds that would be shaken, and the church that would be mobilized.

Be praying for Al and Sarah, be praying for the young women and men they are gathering around their table and discipling. Be praying for the church leaders in Estelli as Al and Sarah engage them with the conversation of how to see a nation transformed by the good news of King Jesus.

-Andy Graham

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Ignite Spring Weekend

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Ignite Spring Weekend

This weekend will be the first ever IGNITE Spring Weekend!  During this semester, we have been focusing on being intentional as individuals and intentional with individuals.  One of the ways we can do that is by serving others with the love of Christ.  In John 13, Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” We strive to be a ministry and a people that are known by our love. 

This weekend we will love through serving our college campus, our church, and our community.  Please pray for us as we engage students at the FGCU Basketball Game, serve our Every Child Initiative Families, partner with CityGate ministries to reach out to our community in Downtown Ft. Myers, and love our local church.  When not serving, we will be fellowshipping, worshipping, and studying God’s Word from John 13. 

We believe that God will move in real and mighty way this weekend, both in us and through us!  Pray with us and watch God work!

 

-Adam Alexander, College Pastor

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Welcome Dave Harvey to the team!

Over the past 13 years we’ve been blown away to see the Lord’s activity in bringing the right people at the right time to join his work at Summit Church. As he has done before, he is doing again, and we’re excited to let you know about it. Many of you will remember Dave and Kimm Harvey from the marriage conference we did at Summit last year. Over the past few years Dave has become a dear friend of mine and of our team, and in God’s grace and goodness to us, he has seen fit to open the door for Dave to join us at Summit.  Dave is the Executive Director of the Sojourn Network (SojournNetwork.com) as well as the founder of Am I Called (AmICalled.com). He is the author of books such as When Sinners Say I Do, Rescuing Ambition, and Letting Go, and he has been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years. 

Dave and his wife, Kimm, will be a huge addition to the work the Lord is doing in our midst, and we trust you will be blessed by their ministry. While Dave will continue his work with the Sojourn Network, he will be joining our teaching team and will be involved in a variety of other areas. You’ll be hearing more about this in the coming months, but until then we figured Dave would best be able to describe how they have come to this point.  So take a few moments to read his words below, and then we encourage you to spend some time praying for the Harveys and thanking the Lord for his kindness to us.     

- Jamin Stinziano


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WE’RE MOVING!

The Harveys are leaving Tallahassee. We’re saying goodbye to the incredible folks at Four Oaks Church and our dear friends there—including those on the pastoral team. We’re moving further south. I’ve accepted a part-time position as a teaching pastor at Summit Church in Naples. If you have a minute, I’d love to tell you about how all of this happened so you can share in our excitement and pray for our upcoming transition.

Why Leave Four Oaks?

In July of 2013, I was called by Four Oaks Church as the Pastor of Preaching. I was hired, because the church had recently been through a significant lead pastor transition and needed some pulpit help. The arrangement was that 75% of my time would be dedicated to Four Oaks with the remainder available for writing, travel, and work with other organizations I regularly serve. We agreed to a three-year commitment. So, from the first day, my role had an inevitable shelf-life.

One year later, a friend named Daniel Montgomery from Sojourn Network asked if I could lend a hand to that organization. As you may know, Sojourn Network aims to help pastors lead their churches by providing strategic counsel, training, and support. With the support of our local elders, I began to serve Sojourn Network as a member of the board and through leadership consulting. Many months later, the Network board asked me to serve as their Executive Director. This invitation came as Paul Gilbert was becoming more situated in his role as lead pastor at Four Oaks. The parallel developments made it possible for me to dial back my church work and split my time between Sojourn Network and Four Oaks. By the grace of God, both ministries seemed to prosper as we made these shifts.

I’ve been at Four Oaks for three and a half years now. Over that time, God has led us to spend more and more time serving Sojourn Network. As I’ve begun to travel more for Network responsibilities, I’ve made an unfortunate discovery. Travel from the Tallahassee airport is difficult and expensive. As the delays, canceled flights, and trip costs have multiplied, I’ve been forced to consider whether I should be in a location more conducive to travel. Last Spring, after seeking support from our local leaders and a multitude of counselors, we began a search for a new church home.

Why Summit?

Summit Church, a Sojourn Network affiliate, was started in 2003 by a team of leaders that includes two dear friends: Jamin Stinziano and Orlando Cabrera. Summit is a multi-site church of two thousand folks spread over several campuses in southwest Florida. Summit is also a church that gets mission. They have raised up scores of leaders, planted many other churches, and, a few years back, were instrumental in starting a church planting network. Church planting and community outreach are embedded in their DNA.

I met Jamin two years ago when he happened to be in Tallahassee and invited me to coffee.  That’s Jamin. He’s traveling to another city, so he takes the time to reach out to a local pastor and hear about what Jesus is doing in the city. That day, I made a new friend. We sat down and began to talk about family, friends, leadership and church planting. We synced—like that inexplicable connection that happens when my laptop finds Wi-Fi. We connected, swapped the essential information, and then our conversation just started to flow. It was the first of what would become many memorable conversations.

When it seemed like God was moving us from Tallahassee, Summit emerged as an exciting and suitable location. The only problem was that Summit is stacked with competent staff. God seemed to be telling us to wait. Then, one afternoon, I received an unexpected call from Jamin; the pastor of their Naples congregation was leaving to plant a church. A door flung wide to open a role on the Summit elder team. Soon they asked me to join their team and lead Sojourn Network with Summit Church as my new home base. I’ve found that the culture of Southwest Florida, with many transplants from the north, seems fitting for Kimm and I. And as for their airport, well, let’s just say it was love at first sight.

In Summary:

We are moving to Naples because…

  1. Our family and the Four Oaks elders share a conviction that this is from God.
  2. Our three-year term is complete. It has served both Four Oaks and our family.  
  3. Four Oaks has grown in stability under my dear friend Paul Gilbert’s able leadership. My role now seems less necessary.
  4. Kimm and I have grown to love the leaders at Summit. We believe God is uniting us to this local church.
  5. The Fort Myers airport is more conducive to Network travel.
  6. The culture of Southwest Florida is quite suitable for a couple of ex-Philadelphians.
  7. As a thriving, missional, multi-site model, Summit will be a place I can learn, as well as an effective base to host and support my Sojourn Network role.

 

When I called a friend up north to tell him about our move, he asked me a funny question: “Why is a church situated below sea level (with the closest hill in the next state) called ‘Summit Church’?” I get it. We’re making our way south to a pancake-flat landscape, to join a church called Summit, that’s filled with folks from the north!

It is confusing, isn’t it. It sometimes feels like chaos, but the God who brings order out of chaos has always been a part of our story. We see His providence in this transition. We covet your prayers as we go.

- Dave and Kimm

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Year End Gift

Thank you so much for your generosity in 2016! It's no exaggeration to say that we have seen God do great and mighty things that only He can do as He has advanced His kingdom through us! And you have a huge part in that. 

If you would like to help us finish 2016 strong so we can continue to press into the mission to make disciples that represent the gospel to every man, woman and child, you can do so by mailing a check or by giving online. 

Thank you for your continued partnership in the gospel of Jesus Christ!

MAILING ADDRESS:
Summit Church
9210 Estero Park Commons Blvd
Suite 9, Estero, FL 33928

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Summit Español - Update

It was in February of 2014 that Summit Church Español started as a life group.

As a couple we knew God had called us to plant a Church with the mission of Summit, where the glory would be given to God, not to us, and where every man, woman, and child would hear the gospel in its purity, learn to be disciples of Jesus and become disciple-makers. A Hispanic Church with such impact and influence in the community that if it were to disappear, it would be missed.

We started with a few families and we have grown in number and knowledge of the word of God and in boldness to be witness of the good news to others.

We have had difficulties on the way and sometimes we have even felt discouraged, but the call is greater and the God who has called us is greater than any difficulty or challenge. We have seen hunger for the word of God in the people, a desire to serve and to grow in knowledge of God’s word, and we have seen spiritual growth in many families as well as our own. It has been very encouraging to see people asking questions about the word of God. They want to grow, they want to learn, and they want to be equipped to make disciples.

We meet once a week on Friday evenings for Bible Study and fellowship, but also pray at home every Monday night at 10pm. We also fast the first Monday of every month. And we have seen answers to prayers and hearts changed. We are growing in our fellowship by sharing each other’s burdens and praying for one another.

As it is said in 1 Samuel 7:12, “…until now the Lord has helped us” and He will continue to help us, to guide us, because it’s His Church, His heart.

We invite all of Summit Church to be part of this movement and to support us in prayer, so we can glorify God by making disciples that represent the gospel to every man, woman and child.

 

- Claudio and Ana Paredes

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