By Nate Hettinga on Jun 17, 2012 in Church, Leadership, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
We had planned to spend time on Sunday sight-seeing. Mother Teresa’s house was on our list. God had another idea. Below is Pastor Kirk’s description of the day which was sent to the staff of Cascade Church. It’s longer than most posts but well worth the time.
“It was nice to get to sleep in a bit and grab some breakfast before heading to attend the service at the Good News Church in Kolkata. Pastor Subir arrived with a car and we drove to their new church building. The service started at 11:00 with an extended worship set and we were introduced at around 11:45. They presented each of us with a small bouquet of flowers.
Nate preached for over an hour on trusting God in difficult circumstances and then they sang several more songs. Maybe 75% of the attenders were women or children but they seemed very attentive to the message and engaged in worship.
The service finally ended at 1:30 pm and then a number of women came forward with babies they wanted to dedicate. We stood at the back of the room and many of the 250 people waited to shake our hand. Even more interesting was that many leaned down and touched both of our feet and then the top of their own head. Apparently, this is a bengali sign of respect.
Following the service, lunch is served as some of the people walk a long distance to attend church and they are not anxious to head home. We sat in a small room and ate with Subir and his family and a few other leaders.
After lunch, a number of people had waited in hopes that we might pray over them. Two women came that have been unable to have children so we laid hands on them. We then took a tour of their facility which is still under construction in some parts. They hope to add a bakery soon to provide cheaper food for the many children’s ministries they have. They talked of stepping into the project on faith and having to depend on God to provide the resources to complete the construction. Familiar territory!
We then headed out with Subir and his wife and we drove around Kolkata seeing the many ministries they have started. We saw an Infant Clinic where they provide clothing, food and education for young mothers that are very poor. We also visited a building that is being renovated that will house a pastor training center and small school for the local community. Their ministry currently runs 8 schools around the city that provides education for 2000 children. Many of them homeless.
We then went to visit their two orphanages located in a small village. They currently house 87 young girls in one and 99 boys in the other from 5-17 year of age. Most of them come from the streets and do not have parents. After attending one of their schools for 6 months, the kids then qualify to live in the orphanage.
These kids are given a new lease on life and you could see a peace and joy in their eyes. They sang a few songs and did a dance for us. We were then able to pray over them. It is difficult to put into words what it is like to see little ones that would face terrible circumstances without this kind of ministry. Many of the girls would likely face some form of trafficking. They are now able to live at the house until they finish high school and can go to college. The kids called us “uncle” and wanted to play, especially the boys. I think each of us held back emotion as many of the boys wanted a hug and were hesitant to let go. Happy Father’s Day! Again, an experience that will not be forgotten.
Clearly God orchestrated todays events.’
By Nate Hettinga on Jun 17, 2012 in Church, Leadership, Uncategorized | 0 Comments
Saturday was a full and rewarding ministry day.
In the words of Kirk Gendron:
I am not used to these early mornings but we were up at 5:00 and ready to go by 6:00. Today’s adventure took us to a small village in West Bengal just inland of the Sunderban Islands. I realize that I mentioned the insanity of driving through Kolkata yesterday and yet that seemed almost tame in comparison to the experience today.
Imagine driving your car down the aisle at Walmart with the store loaded with customers, people riding bikes and other cars trying to go the opposite direction. The ride was 3 1/2 hours and our nerves were more than frayed by the time we arrived. Thankfully, we did not run anyone over, though a motorcycle did run into the back of our car!
Things were a bit disorganized when we arrived. By the time we got started, there were 120 pastors from neighboring villages, many from the small islands off the coast. Some had traveled 50 miles by boat, bus and walking to attend the conference.
In addition, there were about 90 kids that attend the small school there in the village. We each had the opportunity to speak with the pastors and the kids separately. Thankfully, God blessed us with cooler weather than we have had but it was still very humid inside the rustic concrete room. I do not believe I have ever sweated as much as I did during the 45 minutes that I was teaching. We had to make sure to drink lots of water.
We took communion together and at the end, Nate taught them about servant leadership. The most significant moment of the trip for all 4 of us was getting to wash the feet of the leaders of the church plant pastors. Having pastors come all the way from the US to teach them is considered a real honor but having us kneel in front of their peers and wash their feet was overwhelming. Several of them had tears in their eyes before we even started and kept praising God as we prayed a blessing over them personally. It was a powerful moment that none of us will ever forget.
And in the words of Joel Madson:
“What a wonderful day! In almost 30 years as a pastor I’ve never experienced a day like today!
…I washed Kaupada Mondal’s feet. As I washed I looked him in the eyes and told him it was a privilege to serve him. He had tears in his eyes and his lips were quivering. I was so moved I could hardly continue. I’ve never experienced anything like that. To minister to these pastors was over the top for me.
Thank you for praying! We have endured very hot and humid conditions and as I write this we are experiencing one monser of a thunder storm. We also survived a wild 3+ hour drive coming and going to the conference that made all of my previous experiences around the world seem tame. Most importantly the Lord blessed us with an amazing day! God bless you and have a fantastic day!
By Nate Hettinga on Jun 14, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 Comments
God tells us that true religion is caring for the needs of widows and orphans in their distress. We spent the day on Thursday with a couple who are living out true religion in their city. Arjuna started small but had a vision from God. Over the years that dream has gained traction and is now a flourishing reality.
As we walked the grounds of this SE India ministry, we met church planters, Bible School students, orphans, and school children. All are being transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Literally thousands of lives are impacted through just this one ministry center.
This is why we travel across the world. It’s one thing to hear stories in our churches or read articles of “missions”. It’s quite another to look into the eyes of people in need — to see, smell, taste the food and feel the work of the Holy Spirit.
God is at work here and as we travel onward today we take a piece of this ministry with us in our hearts.
By Nate Hettinga on Jun 13, 2012 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
I’ve traveled to parts of Asia several times over the years, but never with 3 team members who were over 6 feet tall. Wherever we walked (airport, beach, city streets) people subtly nudged their friends and pointed to the giants — and the short bald guy. Teen girls giggle, young men give the stare-down and little kids just gawk.
India is a land of 1.2 Billion people. And it’s not that large. Imagine a nation 1/3rd the size of the US but will 3x the number of citizens. Crazy crowded. And not many large pale men wandering about.
I’m reminded that this isn’t home. Yet, as we talk with people, the needs are the same as ours. The dreams, hopes and troubles are similar. And we are all looking for Someone larger than ourselves to connect with — namely, God.
Enjoying this whirl-wind trip through India. God is reaching this sub-continent in a fresh movement of his grace. It’s a privilege to be here!
By Nate Hettinga on Jun 10, 2012 in Church, Family | 1 Comment
They marched two-by-two down the aisle and to their seats. From a distance we recognized the confident walk of our 18 year old Autumn Dawn. Her day had arrived! For a moment, I flashed back to my own graduation (way too many years ago) — and to subsequent ceremonies over the years. Each one represents accomplishment, celebration and goals attained. But each also represents change, transition and the opening of a new chapter.
As we reach a goal and celebrate we are pushed forward into tomorrow’s unknown. But some things are constant: God’s love, God’s protection, God’s greater plan. Each new season of life is an adventure — the details are unknown, but our God is the same and he’s big enough to handle whatever comes our way.
This weekend we celebrate Autie’s graduation. Tomorrow begins a new chapter for her — and for us.
In addition, tomorrow I leave for a whirl-wind tour of India and Nepal. Our team will be experiencing new peoples and cultures, but God is there and his fingerprints will become clear as we travel. It’s a new adventure — with a God who never changes!
By Nate Hettinga on Apr 20, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 Comments
Years ago preachers would proclaim, “It’s Friday . . . but Sunday’s a comin’” Meaning — while it looks dark and hopeless, light and freedom are on the way!
This Friday is called “Good” even though it’s a day to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ. The reason Christians term the day good is because of the work that Jesus did on the day of his death. He took on my sin and the selfishness of the whole world, paying the ultimate price for love.
This Easter will be a celebration of God’s power and grace. By raising Jesus from the grave, God has provided a way for all of us to know forgiveness and hope. I’m looking forward to worship and gathering with friends old and new at Cascade this weekend. Our 4 services will be at 8, 9:15, 10:30 and 11:45am.
You’re invited to come celebrate! Bring a friend and come celebrate God’s love for us!
By Nate Hettinga on Mar 23, 2011 in Church, Leadership, Uncategorized | 0 Comments
I vividly recall their eyes — brown, big, curious, cautious yet trusting. The children at Safe Haven Center in Cambodia are either at risk of being trafficked into slavery or have already suffered trauma and are being loved, educated and rehabilitated. Jesus is at work through the Cambodia Hope Organization and through it’s leader, Chomno.
A couple weekends ago at Cascade (March 6), we were privileged to welcome Chomno and hear his story of survival, salvation and ministry outreach to the people living on the border between Cambodia and Thailand.
Along with meeting practical needs such as clean water, education and job skills training, Chomno has a vision of seeing a church planted in every village along the border between Cambodia and Thailand. Toward that end, the “mother church” in Poipet needs a new facility for worship and Bible teaching.
That morning at Cascade, with about a 3 minute warning, I mentioned that we would be “passing the hat” to raise a few dollars to help propel this Cambodian church planting movement. Amazingly, people responded with incredible generosity! Nearly $25,000 was given (which was added to a single large donation of $20,000) for a grand total of $45,000!
I shouldn’t be surprised — but I am. God has richly blessed so many of us here in the USA — I’m grateful to be part of a church that joyfully chooses to share it’s stuff with other people in other places for the glory of God.
By Nate Hettinga on Mar 7, 2011 in Church, Leadership, Lessons Learned | 3 Comments
Some tribes of Christianity honor and practice a sacrament that has roots in the Upper Room humility of Jesus Christ. Normally, a servant would have met each of the disciples at the door after their sandals had been removed and would wash their feet.
Feet that have walked miles over dusty roads are not pleasant. That’s why a slave got the unenviable job of cleaning off the dirt. No else was willing to do that kind of menial, demeaning and disgusting task.
So it was a shock to the 12 friends of Jesus when he rose from the meal and “showed them the full extent of his love.” Why foot washing? Of all the ways Jesus could have emphasized the importance of servant leadership, why this? Because the Master knew that his time of leading and mentoring the future leaders of the Church was at an end. And they absolutely had to get what leadership is all about.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:13-14). Leadership is lots of things: influence, doing the right thing, followership, etc. But at the end of the day, leadership is about humility. It’s about being willing to serve those in our sphere of influence so that Jesus looks good and the Gospel moves forward in the lives of others.
How can we serve those in our sphere this week? It could be as mundane as washing the dishes or changing a diaper. It could be as profound as listening and getting involved in the pain of another person’s journey.
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” — Jesus (John 13:17)
By Nate Hettinga on Dec 8, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Sabbatical was 14 weeks this past summer. I’ve been back at Cascade for about 12 weeks. Preached 12 Sunday talks. And a few others here and there.
I’ve been surprised by how challenging it has been to find relative balance. I know for sure that my focus is Jesus, the fam, then the church. But so quickly, the tyranny of the urgent tends to overshadow good intentions.
I’m reminded by something God taught me this summer: Only one dude has the role of husband to Amy. Only one dude can be Daddy to Kaitlyn, Autumn, Caleb, Ellie, Isaiah and Levi.
I’m so grateful that God teaches lessons in cycles and includes lots of grace in the process.
I’m serving with renewed energy and focus, fresh passion and purpose. Looking forward to where God takes us in the next season of marriage, family and ministry.
By Nate Hettinga on Aug 27, 2010 in Church, Family, Lessons Learned, Sabbatical | 5 Comments
Two months has been the longest stretch (by far) that we’ve been away from home and out of the country. Surprisingly, it was fairly easy to adjust to life in Thailand. But coming home has brought a good deal of reflection and comparison. As a family, we’ve entered the process of debriefing the summer by making lists of what we will and will not miss about life in Thailand.
My personal list:
What I’ll miss:
*Plumeria blossoms perfuming the air
*Cambodia Hope Organization
*Spicy Thai cooking
*Living far far away
*Open air/night markets
*White sands/brilliant blue seas
What I won’t miss:
*Very little alone time with Amy
*Sharing our bed with little people
*Sweating all the time
*Not speaking the language
*Not knowing where to go
*Not preaching often
*Driving on the left from the right hand side
As we adjust to life in Monroe, there are other aspects to living in the US that are both welcome and strange. I love our freedoms here. Taking my rifle for a walk in the woods the other night was invigorating. Coming home to the land where I am a citizen brings security.
On the other hand, the pace of life here is ridiculous — and I’m still on sabbatical! The goods and services readily available are mind-boggling. Amy and I went to Costco and were wide-eyed once again at all of the stuff Americans seem to “need.” And people here are bigger (read “fat”) and ruder than SE Asia.
God has blessed us with new perspectives from the people and places we’ve been. It’s been good for our souls and makes us grateful for all that He has blessed us with and for the people in our lives.