Ignite Fall Retreat Recap

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Ignite Fall Retreat Recap

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By Stephen Johnson

This past weekend, 140 college students attended IGNITE’s annual Fall Retreat. They enjoyed a weekend full of rest, new and growing friendships, and worship and teaching. My prayer, each year, is to see students trust Christ as their Savior and to see others grow drastically in relationship with God in the span of just a few days. I believe that the Lord answered those prayers this year!

We were joined by Joel Busby, Lead Pastor of Grace Fellowship in Birmingham, Alabama, who taught about the cost and joy of discipleship from the gospel of Luke. His messages were both convicting and encouraging as he taught boldly from Luke 9 that a “crucified Lord will have crucified followers” and from Luke 18 that following Jesus is far better than we could ever imagine. Jesus’ words in these passages are extremely important for college students to consider and be fueled by as they live as missional ambassadors to FGCU. 

Finally, our prayer that the Holy Spirit would cause the hearts of students to be stirred by the gospel was answered! We had numerous conversations with students who had never heard or understood the Good News of Jesus before attending the retreat. Please continue to pray for those students and praise God for the seven students who declared by baptism that, “Jesus is Lord!”.

Fall Retreat opened up a door to connect me with a much larger community, and gave me the opportunity to share the grace and mercy the Lord has had on my life to connect me with guys in a Christ centered way. I learned the importance of discipleship and hope to carry out the lessons throughout my days. I couldn’t be more blessed to have been apart of such a life changing experience.
— Nate
As a freshman, Fall Retreat opened the door to meet so many new people and grow in my faith. It helped me create the community I have been longing for and made me so thankful for where I am.
— Megan
I say this often but a year ago my life was about the pursuit of my flesh and selfish desires. I never thought I would be where I am now in my pursuit of the Lord and HIS plans for my life, instead of my own. Ignite and Fall Retreat in particular has helped shape and mold my heart and mind in ways I am so grateful for.
— Taylor

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A Call to Fast

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A Call to Fast

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Hello Summit Family,

We are less than a week away from “Revive Us”, our time of worship and prayer, and we are really looking forward to this opportunity to gather as one church, to worship, to seek the heart of God, sit under the teaching of His Word and be encouraged by the Holy Spirit and by one another. 

We are grateful to have Scotty Smith, as our guest speaker this year. We know that Scotty is has been preparing and praying and is ready to deliver a special word to us.  Our hope and prayer is that this time would not be seen as an event, but as a launching pad and catalyst for deeper spiritual renewal.  And that the result would be a renewed commitment to pursue the Lord, to set and find our joy in Him and live more fully into His mission. 

Hopefully by now you have made arrangements to join us starting this Sunday night, October 6th for these 4 special nights of worship. Your presence and prayers are important.

In this last week of anticipation and preparation for Revive Us, the Elders are asking you to join us in a church wide fast on Wednesday, October 2nd.  If you have been at Summit for a while, you may remember our monthly fasting initiative, Fast Forward. For a season we had suspended that time, but we now believe this is an appropriate time to call us again to fast and pray.  In fact, moving forward, the first Wednesday of every month will serve as a corporate call to fast and pray. So if you are physically able to, will you join us this Wednesday for a day of fasting and prayer?

 Here is a link that will give you more information and the biblical context for fasting.

 Here are some specific things we would ask you to join us in prayer for:

1. Pray that God would move mightily in our midst during our times together on October 6-9th.  We are praying that the Lord would do miracles in our midst, heal the sick, restore the broken, set free the captives, encourage the down trodden, and save the lost.

2.  Pray for Scotty Smith and for Jamin Stinziano who will preach the Word of God. Pray that the Lord would use them powerfully to deliver His Word to us.

3.  Pray for your heart, and for the hearts of all who will be in attendance, to be open and ready to receive from God.  Pray that hearts would be eager to respond to the Lord in complete surrender and obedience.

4.  Pray that God would renew, restore and infuse us with His unending and unspeakable joy.  Pray that as a result of our time together a deeper passion for God, His Word and His glory would mark the hearts of Christ’s people.

We cannot over state this; we are so grateful for each of you.  We make mention of you often in our prayers.  It is a deep privilege and blessing to share this journey of faith with you. We can’t wait to worship with you at Revive Us! God bless you.

-Orlando Cabrera

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16 Years of God's Faithfulness

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16 Years of God's Faithfulness

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This week Summit Church celebrates our 16-year anniversary.  We remain grateful and continue to be in awe of the deeds of the Lord in and through our midst.  There is so much to be thankful to God for and so much to still seek His heart, direction and blessing in. But it’s right to take a moment and reflect on the Lord’s faithfulness. 

16 years ago, when 8 families got together in a living room to share, pray and discuss what we all sensed the Lord was calling us to, we had no idea that we would see God do so much.  We all felt a strong sense of call, and we were all confident that the Lord was calling us out to start a new work, but God has certainly done “immeasurably more” than we could have imagined.

Over the past 16 years, both the mission and vision have become clearer for us as Elders but the heart that was present all those years ago has not changed. If anything, it’s only grown stronger.

From the outset, our desire was for Summit Church be a place that would glorify God above all things, grow disciples, be active in God’s redemptive mission through equipping all of God’s people, planting new churches, partnering with existing churches and linking arms with missionaries and organizations that stand on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This passion and desire still drives all that we do today.

God has been so gracious to allow us to see hundreds of men, women and children place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ over the last 16 years! What an amazing gift that is. The Lord has also allowed us to grow to three congregations meeting in three different geographies with one central mission “to make disciples that represent the Gospel to every man woman and child.” 

God has also given influence on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University and continues to allow us to minister to that ever-growing college population. Men and women have been trained, equipped and launched out missionaries and leaders. We’ve helped plant new churches throughout our region, nation and world.  

And the Lord has allowed us to see the power of the Gospel as He has restored broken marriages, healed the hurting and set free many who’ve found themselves enslaved to the bondage of addictions. 

All of this, and SO MUCH MORE, God has done and it is right that we thank Him.

So, if you’re reading this, please join the staff and Elders in reflecting, celebrating and thanking God for His faithfulness...As the Psalmist writes in Psalm 111…

Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.  Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.  He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
— Psalm 111:2-4

Thank you again for your partnership in this mission.  Let us continue to seek the Lord together and walk in faith in the days ahead.  We love you Summit!

- The Elders

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Unfinished Stories

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Unfinished Stories

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By Orlando Cabrera:

A couple of weeks ago I was flying home from Denver, Colorado and like most people, I either read, work, sleep or enjoy some in-flight entertainment. On this particular flight I decided to watch a movie, and just as I was really getting into it, a voice came over the intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen please we’re going to prepare for arrival.  At this time we are going to ask that you turn off your electronic devices and return your seats and tray tables to their upright and locked positions.” 

And just like that, the movie shut off. Now I will never know how it ends.

Ok, yes, I should have made the decision to start the movie sooner, and it’s not that big of deal. I can find it again at Redbox or catch it on Netflix; all of that is true. But this experience started me thinking about this spiritual journey of faith.

Unlike a movie, where we are passive observers, God invites us into His narrative.  A narrative that He has written before the foundations of the world.  He invites us into a journey, a life, a relationship that He has authored, that He has dominion over and that He has already determined how it will end. 

But if we’re being honest, even as Christians we want to know how each scene and chapter will end. What is the outcome?  Just because we know that the Christian life culminates in glory doesn’t mean that it won’t get overshadowed by difficult moments we are living in right now. And that makes sense.   The problem comes when we fail to enjoy the journey, or when we wait to thank God once we get to end of whatever it is we are going through.  Yes, I know how it all ultimately ends, but I also find myself worrying and waiting to see how every chapter unfolds. This leads me away from the practice of His presence -of living into each moment with eyes wide open to see what God is doing right now and hearts ready to receive what He has for us today.  Jesus said that eternal life was not just something that was promised and was coming in the future to those who trusted in Him for salvation. He stated that it was a relationship to be enjoyed right now in real time… ”And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”  - John 17:3

So here’s a simple challenge…

 

#1.  Ask God to give you eyes to see His activity and personal care. Daily.  Make it a habitual practice to thank God and celebrate His faithfulness. Daily.  Praise Him even today in the midst of what may seem like an unfinished story, because you can confidently declare your Father in Heaven is faithful and His mercies are new every day.

#2.  Maximize each day.  I know that sounds so secular, but believe me, it’s not.  The Bible has a lot to say about this day and “THAT DAY.”  We serve a missio dei God; a God who is on mission and each day that He grants us life is an important day.  It’s a day that’s not to be wasted, but another opportunity to take another step with intentionality towards communion with Him, service to others and participation in His redemptive mission.  God doesn’t want us to take our days for granted… ”yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”  - James 4:14  The better and more faithful practice for us as children of God is to heed and join in the prayer of Moses from Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

So start that movie early on your next flight. But whether you get to see it all the way through or not, remember to enjoy the flight and don’t lose sight that the destination for you, dearly beloved in Christ, is set. And there is much to see, experience, walk in, and enjoy through this journey.

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Serve Our Schools Deliveries

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Serve Our Schools Deliveries

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Thank you to everyone who participated in our Serve our Schools project as we continue to build partnerships with the schools in our Circles of Accountability, representing the gospel to every man, woman and child! We were able to deliver those backpacks, supplies, uniforms, and snacks you generously provided! We were also able to provide smoothies, breakfast, and cookies to the staff members at our school partners!. Most importantly, we were able to thank them for their service to our communities and pray with them as we demonstrated the love of Christ! Thank you for your participation and for your gospel influence in our community! Continue to pray for these relationships, that we would be able to proclaim the good news of Jesus.



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Dylan's Story

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Dylan's Story

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Dylan was baptized at the Naples Campus on July 24th. This is his testimony.

I want to start out by saying that God is so good, and I cannot believe I am where I am right now. This time last year I was just stepping into the Christian life and discovering who God is.

When I was a boy, my family was a part of the Catholic church because that is what we did by tradition. I remember Sunday school and other forms of teachings where the idea of God was fascinating, but I never had a relationship with God. In 3rd grade, my parents separated and filed for divorce, and I lost all connection to the church and any hope of finding God.

My father remarried when I was in middle school and my mom remarried around the beginning of high school. Both of my parents underwent divorces again, and each separation became easier and easier. I had become so used numb to it. Whether it was the boyfriends and girlfriends or husbands and wives, I was used to people coming and going in my life and I convinced myself I was okay, which was the first step into a dark path.

I hit my lowest of lows when it came to my senior year. I had just finished performing at a football game and my mom was driving me home and she told me that her husband, my step father that I looked up to, had been beating her for the past two years. I had no idea how to think or feel. I was in complete shock. But I stayed strong for my mother like I had always tried to do, and called my dad for help. For my entire senior year, we ended up living with my dad and his girlfriend at his house, where my mom took my room and I slept on the couch. At this point of my life I became envious of every family around me, especially here in Naples where everyone could seem so “perfect”. I became very "me-centered” thinking that I was the only one who could solve my problems because of how I had been let down by so many others.

At the time I wasn’t aware, but I was suffering from extreme abandonment issues and didn’t know how to handle relationships in healthy ways. I looked to the world to ease my sadness and pain, partying with friends, trying to find satisfaction in women. But none of it made me feel better; if anything, it made it all worse.

Sadly, I couldn’t see any of this in the moment. I was dead, emotionally and spiritually. Then, by God’s grace I met a girl who invited me to her youth group where I heard a very heavy message about heaven and hell. It made me really think about where I was at in life and where I wanted to go after this earthly life.

I began praying again and attending church with my mom more frequently. I met more Christians and asked a lot of questions. One day I was in the car with my mom and I was having extreme anxiety and I shared that with her. She prayed over me and when she was done, this overwhelming feeling of peace passed through me and I began to cry because it was such an amazing feeling. I had come to the end of myself and I truly trusted in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I went off to college and joined a church, beginning to form my own faith. I didn’t feel like it was something I had to do, but a relationship that I actually wanted with God; I wanted to be a part of His family.

Of course, I still have struggles and failures, but the way I walk is much different now with Jesus in my life. He makes me feel and know that I am worth it; because He died for me so that I could have eternal life. He reminds me every day that He loves me no matter what happens. Without Him, I would not be up here (getting baptized) today, proclaiming my faith and sharing my story. I can truly say I now have a mind, heart and eyes for the Lord. I have come to the understanding that God knows what is best for me and that even when it is hard to say, “OK God I’ll do it,” it is a more rewarding way to live. Whatever I do for the rest of my life, I know it will glorify God, be for my ultimate good, and focus on expanding his Kingdom.

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Update from the Millers - Summer 2019

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Update from the Millers - Summer 2019

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An update from our missionary partners and dear friends, Luke and Alyssa Miller

Snake, snake, fish, fish.

This is how we answer, with a smile, when we are asked if we can speak Thai. It's a local phrase that is used to poke fun at foreingers trying (poorly) to speak the language. Usually we are met with laughter that we are "in" on the joke and use it against ourselves. I think that our last eight months would have looked very different if we weren't able to see the humor and joy in our clumsy-ness as we enter into a very different culture from the one we knew before.

We have so much more to learn but are encouraged by our progress. Here is a quick overview of our Thai abilities!We can read, write, and have simple conversationsWe are beginning to understand what motivates people to make choices and deeply held beliefsWe both have dreams in Thai

While the majority of our day is still spent learning language, we have begun to participate in PYF respite events in youth homes throughout Chiang Mai. We are beginning to be able to connect with students, share our stories, and see more and more why God has called us here.
This past Saturday we helped serve at a youth home for orphans in elementary, middle, and high-school. It was impactful for us to see how the students faces would light up then they realized we could speak Thai! It was almost as if we were invited into their world in a deep and more personal way.

Family Update... How Has it Been?

Luke & Alyssa- As parents, raising children overseas is both exhilarating and frightening all at the same time. A simple joy would be watching Psalm and Shepherd experience the world in a new way, learning things we would never think to teach them in the states. Frightening, when Psalm runs in the house and locks the door because there is a foot long poisonous centipede in our yard!
In all seriousness, the last eight months have been a mix of emotions from deep sadness to extreme joy and peace. In May, Alyssa experienced a miscarriage which we still continue to grieve. Being thousands of miles from family and friends added to the intensity but we felt a great comfort that we can't explain. As difficult or stressful as some days may be, we rest in God’s peace and are continually reminded of his faithfulness day in and day out.

Psalm & Shepherd- Psalm (สดุดี, Sadudee) and Shepherd (พิทัก, Petak) both are beginning to speak Thai and Psalm is always asking to learn more. They enjoy playing outside and spending time with friends. Psalm’s favorite thing to eat is kuaytiaw, a noodle soup that many people eat for lunch every day. She wants to open a “noodle shop” one day and be a professional Thai dancer. Shepherd eats absolutely everything including fish tails and congealed blood-- popular foods mom and dad haven’t quite found the appetite for yet. We love that they are on this journey with us!

Prayer Requests

There have been many times over these past few months were we could feel God protecting us and strenghtening us. He is so worthy of praise. Please continue to remember our family in prayer-- we thought it might be helpful to share some specific prayer requests with all of you.

1. Please pray for our health and safety. Protection from disease, animals, and while driving.
2. We are searching for a more permanent home. Please pray over our search!
3. Educational decisions we need to make for our kids.
4. A home church. This is so, so important to us!
5. Psalm, as she begins language classes soon. We are really excited that she is asking to do this!
6. Genuine friendships and community.

Thank you for joining our family on this journey! We are always encouraged by you and we wouldn’t be here without the love, support, and encouragement from such an incredible community. We are eager to press on with our language learning, serve the youth of Chiang Mai, and proclaim the good news of Jesus in Thailand!

-Luke, Alyssa, Psalm, Shepherd

 

 

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Family Worship Guide - Psalm 23

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Family Worship Guide - Psalm 23

This month our Summit Kids are studying Psalm 23 along with us and we have prepared a special Family Worship guide for parents to use in discipling their children at home! We are excited to provide this resource and hope that it is profitable in growing in your intimacy with God as a family! You can access a digital copy of this guide below.

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Lake Swan - Summit Students

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By Darius Pyle
Earlier this month, all three of our Summit Campuses came together with Riverside Church to put on a Student Camp outside of Gainesville, FL.

As 150 middle and high school students began to pour out of the buses at Lake Swan Camp, so did their questions: “Where are we sleeping?” “When can we go tubing?” “Can I ride the golf cart?”

From our Friday arrival to our Tuesday departure, we laughed through nonstop face-painting, leader-pranking, slip-n-sliding craziness. Through every moment of it, we got to see God working in the hearts of these kids, helping them to understand and love Him. We watched as existing friendships deepened and new friendships formed.

Throughout the week, students and leaders were exhorted and encouraged by the Bible teaching of Jesse Stewart, the twin brother of our Naples pastor and elder, Josh. Each day, Jesse opened God’s Word and taught the students what it means to love Christ and follow Him. Jesse challenged the students to allow God to break down walls in their lives, walls that separate them from enjoying deeper relationships with our Savior and with the people in their lives.

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Each night, students would leave the teaching sessions and gather with their small groups to enjoy deeper, more personal conversation. For me, this small group time was the best part of camp. The guys in my group really opened up throughout the week, sharing honestly about anxiety, shame, and many other things that make it seem difficult for them to pursue God. There seemed to be a common thread among them: they felt like their relationships with God were like a rollercoaster, always going up and down, as if God is pleased with them for a while and then disappointed with them just a few days later. This is a common lie that Christians believe, and I was sad to hear it was infecting the lives of so many guys in my room. Throughout the week, we discussed the truth that for those of us who have trusted in Christ for salvation, God is eternally pleased with us because He is perfectly pleased with Jesus, who has covered us with his precious blood. His relationship with us is not a rollercoaster. It’s unwavering, unchanging, perfect love forever.

One sixth grade boy shared with our room how God has uniquely cared for and shaped his family in the past few years as one of his parents has undergone treatment for cancer. He expressed how he knows God loves him because he has experienced God’s personal care for him. He told us that he wants to follow God with his whole life, saying he desired to “get baptized as soon as possible!”.  As our time progressed, another young man who is in eighth grade began to understand God’s love for him and the grace He offers to those who trust in Him. On our last night at camp, he asked Jesus to be his Savior, experiencing God’s grace and forgiveness in a tremendous way!

These are just a few stories from one of many small groups that met at camp. I praise God because He was present at Lake Swan, drawing students to Himself and transforming their hearts, all for His glory!

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Sports Camp - Week 1

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Week one of Sports Camp was a huge success! Here are a few pics of our first week.

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Live Album Update & Recap

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Live Album Update & Recap

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On Friday, May 17, our three congregations gathered to record Summit Church’s first live worship album. We sang original songs composed by worship leaders here at Summit - songs that recount the Lord’s activity and tell of his glorious grace. It was an exciting opportunity to capture the voice of our church and to document the songs of this season.

Why record a worship album?

 At Summit, a core aspect of our worship gatherings involve singing. We believe that music is a means of grace that God employs to draw us to himself, teach us about himself, and grant us the opportunity to respond to him through singing. If you’ve been a part of our worship gatherings, you’ve likely experienced God’s grace in the moments we sing together. Truly God is “enthroned on the praises of his people.” (Psalm 22:3)

Over the last few years, we’ve had a growing conviction to write songs that contain the theology, mission, values, and story of God’s activity at Summit. Throughout history, God’s people have composed such songs. You can find examples of written songs in both the Old and New Testaments. In fact, the largest book of the Bible, the Psalms, is a collection songs.

Recording a worship album is an opportunity for us to document the activity of God in this season. The songs we recorded are ones we are currently singing in our gatherings. When we release the final project, we hope that over the years we can look back and be encouraged by the work of God in this season.

But we also hope that as we listen to these songs in the future, we’ll be inspired to follow God in greater measures of faith. God uses music to strengthen and exhort us on our journey of faith. I have experienced many moments in my own life where singing to the Lord with other believers sustained my faith and encouraged me to draw close to him even when I didn’t feel like it. Paul wrote that we should “admonish one another...singing songs, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Col 3:16) We pray that these songs do that for our church.

What’s Next?

We have a little more work to do mixing, mastering, and releasing the project, but are aiming for a release in early fall. Over the summer, we ask that you would pray for our worship team in a few ways:

-       Pray that God would inspire more songs at Summit. We hope and pray that he continues to give us fresh songs that tell of his activity here.

-       Pray for Gospel Influence. We’re thankful to have seen songs from some of our worship leaders reaching people in SWFL and beyond. May our songs represent the gospel to every man, woman, and child who hears them.

We are looking forward to releasing these songs, and are praying God would use them in powerful ways for his glory.

-Mathis Turley 

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Life in Community

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Life in Community

By Michael Kumher

We had been attending Summit Church for about a year and a half and we were struggling to make connections with people. That’s when we made the decision to join a Community Group.

We were just getting to know most of the folks in our group when we had a pretty difficult situation come upon us. We reached out for prayer and our Community Group supported us in so many ways, helping us as we walked through a difficult time in our lives.

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Being in a Community Group has been a place for us to know and be known. It’s an environment where we grow in our relationship with the Lord and with others. Experiencing how people, some who barely knew us, stepped out in obedience to the Lord, changed our perspective and helped us to see our need for life in community.

This past Fall, we were excited to have the opportunity to help start a Community Group in East Lehigh. It has been incredible to grow and learn together as our relationships have formed and deepened. Not long ago, my wife and I were made aware of an urgent financial need that one our families was burdened with. We shared this need in our Community Group meeting on a Sunday evening and asked our families to pray and see what God would have them do. In less than 24 hours, our Community Group stepped up and was able to meet the financial need in its entirety! We were so taken back by the generosity of those in our group and so moved by this love and concern for Christ’s body that we wanted to share it with you.

 If you’re not part of a Community Group, please understand that we weren’t designed to endure our struggles alone or live isolated lives. Instead, as part of a community of Christ, we can celebrate, grow and live together, experiencing through one another the generosity and care our Father has for his children.

To find out more about Community Groups at Summit, go here.

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Not To Us, Oh Lord

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Not To Us, Oh Lord

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Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
    for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Psalm 115:1


This weekend, we celebrated the opening of our new sanctuary at our University Campus! God continues to be so gracious to us! It’s our prayer that this place would continue to be a launching pad for ministry; a place that forms God-glorifying, gospel-centered, missionally-driven disciples, and sends them into our communities so that every man, woman and child would have repeated opportunities to see, hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.

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Becoming Thai - An Update from the Millers

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Becoming Thai - An Update from the Millers

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An update from our missionary partners and dear friends, Luke and Alyssa Miller.

Summit family,

As we enter our 4th month in Thailand, we are encouraged and strengthened by you and your desire to see Jesus lifted high among the nations. Living in a nation that is <2% Christian is a powerful and constant reminder of the desperate need for true hope and wholeness found only in Jesus. While it feels like we see and experience darkness on a magnified level, we are also happy to report that Jesus is alive and on the move with believers in Thailand. We are hopeful that the Church will continue to grow, spread, and multiply.   

For the last four months, we have been learning to speak, read, and write Thai. We will continue to go to school, practice our Thai within the community, and work alongside Prosperous Youth Foundation. In a season of learning the language and culture, we are reminded of Paul’s words to the church in Corinth:

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)

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Our desire is to become like the Thai, so that we can reach the Thai. To our surprise, that doesn’t happen overnight! We are in a season of “becoming like” which is probably the most difficult thing our family has ever tried to accomplish. Although it’s hard and will take much more time, making Jesus known is so worth it.

Our family is doing well and we are enjoying our new home. Psalm and Shepherd are making new friends and have learned how to integrate rice into their daily diet! Alyssa and I are enjoying our Thai classes and are eager to keep learning. We love our neighborhood, and continue to build relationships with the people around us. We have developed a deep love for the Thai people, and each day we feel a little more “home”.

Please continue to pray for our family. Pray for strength, rest, and peace. Pray that we continue to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus when we are tired and weary. Pray for our health, and especially our lungs as our city is currently experiencing the worst toxic smog in the world. Pray for Psalm and Shepherd as they continue to adjust to a completely new life. Pray for Alyssa and I as we continue to learn, grow, and minister together.

We are so thankful for our Summit Church family. Thank you for walking alongside our family and thank you for partnering with us as we serve in Thailand.

Love,

Luke, Alyssa, Psalm, Shepherd

 

 

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Spring Break Mission Trip

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Hello from snowy, upstate New York!

This week, two teams consisting of 25 students from IGNITE have dedicated their Spring Break to serve alongside two of our church partners: Missio Church in Syracuse and Restoration Church in Buffalo. Our hope with the trip is that students grow in their personal intimacy with God as well as their understanding and personal participation in the mission of God to reach every man, woman, and child with the gospel.

 Both Missio and Restoration are situated nearby major universities, so a main point of emphasis so far this week has been to evangelize on those campuses. For the past three days, we have partnered with campus ministries at the University at Buffalo as well as Syracuse University to engage students who are not yet saved. On Tuesday night at the University at Buffalo, we served alongside a ministry called Bridges International, which seeks to present the gospel to every international student who attends the school. Since nearly 25% of UB’s student population in international students, it’s a tremendous mission field. That night, after evangelizing and reaching out to students all day, we had the opportunity to worship alongside those students and experience a taste of heaven as we worshipped Jesus alongside people from every nation and tongue!

As we prepare to take on the second half of our week, I’d ask you to continue to pray in three specific ways:

1.         Pray that the gospel would take root in the lives of the people we had the opportunity to evangelize to at the University at Buffalo and Syracuse University.

2.         Pray that our students would be encouragement and blessing to Missio Church and Restoration Church, and pray that God would continue to transform hearts and lives in their respective cities.

3.         Pray that our students would catch a glimpse of the mission of God in these cities and that it would stir a desire in them to join him in his work at FGCU, in Estero, and the rest of Southwest Florida.

We are so grateful for your love and prayers,

 Stephen Johnson, Ignite Director

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Backpacks in Nicaragua

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We are incredibly grateful to Summit Church and all who supported the Back to School backpack event for Nicaragua. We are amazed at what God continues to do in the community of Esteli, Nicaragua. Through your giving and the help of countless others, we were able to reach the goal of 150 backpacks.  Iglesia Bautista Fusion was able to bless those families and kids as they begin a new school year.   

Most of the population of Nicaragua already struggles financially, but with the turmoil in the last year, the hardships have only been heightened.  The economic strain is felt for parents to provide the most basics such as back to school supplies for their kids.  Although the backpack and supplies giveaway was great, the vision behind the event was so much greater.  Those families were able to come and hear the Gospel truth and take away a sense of love that the church has for them and their kids.  The team of Iglesia Bautista Fusion connects and loves on that community and those kids every week and so this event was another opportunity to meet physical needs but also bring the Hope of the Gospel

Thank you for your generosity and know the impact made was not just physical, but eternal!

-Al and Sarah Gomez

www.gomezmission.com

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Maddie's Grace Story

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My grace story is one with many twists and turns and is scattered with leaps forward and shoves back. It's a story that ultimately leads me to realizing that what I personally can do for my life is nothing in comparison to what God has for me.

 Though for a long time I have been a believer, I used to be more of a fan than a follower. I observed and considered what God wanted me to do, but I stood on the outside looking in rather than fully submitting to what God had for me and living it out. I was halfway in and halfway out. I knew God was good and had a plan for my life, but I couldn’t fully commit to the idea that what he had for me right now was better than what I could create for myself through my own actions and understanding.

 I finally decided that something needed to change. I no longer wanted to be temporarily fulfilled with what I thought were the answers to my happiness. I didn't want to live the shallow, prideful, and meaningless life I was living. I wanted the deep, wide, and eternal peace that only GOD can provide. I wanted to live with purpose. I wanted God to use me for HIS glory.

For the past year or two, I have not lived a bad life in terms of being a “good Christian”. didn’t commit the outward sins we hear about most, but at the core I was relying on myself. I was doing things to glorify ME, and my identity was in things other than God. I saw God as someone to consult, rather than the person in control.

Upon discovering my mentality of living partially for God and all for me, which got me nowhere, I decided to surrender.

I’m now surrendering my identity as a runner, my identity in how I look, and all the other parts of life that pull me away from God…so I can be closer to God. I surrender my gifts, my voice, my thoughts, and all the good things in my life to God. All of it. Good and bad. I am surrendering every single day.

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This last month and a half has brought some of the most challenging times of my life, yet I have never felt so at peace and fulfilled as I do now. I pray daily that God would use me as a light to those around me, and that he would give me the right words to say. I pray that God would use me to glorify HIM and that I wouldn’t focus on things that glorify myself. Again, I surrender.

It is amazing how much weight is lifted when you allow God to carry the load. I am definitely a work in progress, but each and every day I am waking up with the intention of glorifying God and surrendering ALL of me, to Him. I can feel God on the move in my life, and I am so excited to continue growing in my faith and living out HIS purpose for me.

 

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Erica's Story

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By Erica Irwin

Ten years ago, I had a lot of hang-ups.  I had no idea what it meant to follow Jesus and did not have a church home.  The few church experiences I had left me feeling offended and judged when it came to tithing and financial giving.  My unbelieving heart was hard and guarded.  

By the middle of 2009, we found ourselves in a huge financial disaster.  And in the midst of selling and losing all of our earthly possessions I was heartbroken.  I loved and treasured all the bright and shiny things of this world.  They defined my success as a person and seeing them all slip away was just too much to handle.  As we were preparing to move out of our first home and into a small apartment with our almost two-year old son my sweet husband suggested that we start attending church.  My response back to him was, “how is that going to help?”.

Eventually I agreed to try it out and we landed at Summit Church’s University campus one Sunday morning in September 2009.  I immediately knew that something was different in that place and left feeling surprisingly comfortable and at home.  I didn’t know it at the time but God was at work in my life.  Over the next 6-8 months God continued to break down walls in my heart and I began to immerse myself in God’s word.  I saw my sinful heart for what it was and began to see my need for a savior.  In June 2010 I was baptized alongside my husband and gave my life over to Christ.  I was once in darkness but now was given new life because of what Jesus did for me on the cross.  I still am in awe of the way God worked in my once hardened heart.   

We continued to struggle financially and when it came to tithing and giving I was unsure of how to release the control.  We were now expecting our second child and drowning in medical bills.  I knew that God was calling us to consistently give of our finances and was asking me to surrender them to Him.  I just didn’t understand how we were supposed to pay our debts while also being generous givers.  I was trying to work to control it all and searching for a solution.

My husband kept pursuing me and kept trying to get me to see that our giving wasn’t something that we did if and when we could.  He kept reminding me that we give of our first fruits and then we handle the rest.  I still didn’t trust that it would all work out but I agreed to follow his lead and hoped and prayed that something big would happen.  And then God showed up and boldly proclaimed His presence in my life.  He began to make His plan clear to me in a series of events and in the end, my husband had been given enough overtime work to pay all of our medical bills to the exact dollar of what was owed to bring our baby girl into the world.  I knew in that moment that I had seen a true act of God in my life.  He heard our prayers.  He knew our needs.  He provided for and cared for us in mighty ways.  It was no longer my money.  I was at peace right where we were at.

God broke through the walls around my heart and I was able to surrender all to Him.  I felt incredibly blessed even in the midst of the few earthly possessions we had and knew I was rich in heavenly treasures.  I felt heard by my Creator and all I wanted to do was follow Him and live under His teaching.  It hasn’t always been an easy road.  I often catch my sinful heart slipping back to that place of wanting to be in financial control.  But then I remember that time when I was searching for something more in all the wrong places and how God boldly taught me that He is in control of every aspect of my life and how he has promised to love and care for me despite my sinful soul.

 

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”          Ephesians 2:4-7

 

And so, as a daughter of a King, I will boldly proclaim His name for all my days. 

 

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