Better Together

Recently I stood above a dance floor to take a photo and was taken back by the scene.

I spent a brief moment there, allowing myself to soak it all in. The song, “Shout!”, by the Isley Brothers was playing loudly. It was a crowd favorite, and it showed!

Continue reading “Better Together”

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10 Simple Ways to Build a Culture of Life

On Sunday, January 21 churches across the country will acknowledge the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. This is a day set aside each year for the Christian community to celebrate the incredible gift of life, and acknowledge and advocate for all of those still struggling in the margins. Continue reading “10 Simple Ways to Build a Culture of Life”

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Ordinary People Living Out an Extraordinary Calling to Love

Imagine 2017

Over 600 completely average people joined us for Imagine last weekend. We joined together because we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that He came to seek and to save sinners just like us. We also believe that the whole of the Gospel is much more radical: it invites us to live as a disciple of the One who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, welcomed children, and spent time with those society deemed unworthy and outcasts.

 

This past weekend, over 600 ordinary followers of Jesus joined together to learn how to better seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). We recognized the fears that often paralyze us, and we leaned into the truths from Scripture: that the same way our Savior walked right into the “Samarias” of His world, we are called to the “Samarias” of ours…the places others would rather avoid: the streets, the group home, the orphanage, the prison, the abortion clinic, the rehab center, and the strip club. He walked in, bent down, and looked people right in the eye because relationships transform. He not only calls us to follow Him, but equips us as we do.

 

“Imagine made me realize that my fear of stepping out is normal, and reminded me that God can use anyone.”

“Some moments my heart was breaking and at the same time my fears are lessening. Opening my mind to what it means to truly love others as God loves us!”

“It gave me further conviction to open up to more possibilities that previously scared me.”

 

Throughout the weekend together we considered the idea of “What’s my one?” Our God is an intentional God seeking out the one lost sheep, the one lost coin, and the prodigal son (Luke 15). He has designed and equipped each of us with a different, yet complementary role to play in living out the Gospel (Romans 12:3-6). As each attendee prayerfully considers, “What’s my one?”, together we are able to make an impact in our world.

Here are just a few of the “ones” God led attendees to:

  • Haiti
  • Foster Dad
  • Short-term missions
  • Mentoring
  • Cambodia
  • Refugees learning English
  • Sex Trafficking
  • Strengthening a culture of life in our churches
  • China special needs adoption
  • Foster mom advocate
  • Homelessness
  • Encouraging adoptive families

 

Our prayer is that each person to whom the Lord spoke one thing would respond with prompt obedience to this call. Imagine what would happen if followers of Jesus took a stand for the hungry, the hurting and the fatherless. Let us bring that to life each and every day of the coming year!

Our deepest appreciation to each speaker, exhibitor and to the team of volunteers who planned and executed this event. Our time together was encouraging, refreshing, and equipping. We look forward to seeing you at Imagine 2018.

 

We’d love to hear your story of how God is using you, a completely ordinary person to live out His extraordinary calling to love.

Email us at connect@imagineconferencepgh.com

For encouragement and practical help living out this calling year round, be sure to subscribe to our blog.

 

 

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What to Expect at Imagine 2017

It’s Friday, November 10th, at 6:00 pm and you’re pulling into the parking lot in expectation of a great weekend at Imagine.

We’re ready for you! For SIXTEEN months we’ve been planning, praying, and preparing for an amazing weekend where people can gather with other believers, be equipped and encouraged in our call, and take a step of obedience to live out an extraordinary calling to love!

But do you really know what to expect?

 

A warm welcome!

First and foremost we are glad you’re joining us. You’ll find plenty of free parking, and warm welcoming smiles as you enter the Wexford campus of North Way Christian Community. Come right in. Pick up a registration packet, a cup of coffee, relax, and visit some exhibitors (more on our amazing exhibitors later).

At about 7:00 pm make your way to the sanctuary. We’ve designed an evening of worship that will roll out the red carpet for the Holy Spirit. We’ll share stories from people just like you who will encourage you to take that first step in living out Jesus’ love. You’ll also hear from our powerful keynote speaker who will challenge you with Biblical truth.

We pray that you will use this evening as a time to allow God to speak to your heart.

As Jesus followers we are called to live out His extraordinary love. This can be challenging, scary, tiring, messy and complex, but it is always worth it. We want this evening to be a time of refreshment for you, a time to have your heart broken for what breaks God’s, and a time of revelation as He reveals to you your part in His plan.

And we’re just getting started. Be sure to come back tomorrow!

 

Saturday: Dig Deep

After a restful night’s sleep, head back Saturday morning for a jam-packed day. We’re starting bright and early with a continental breakfast. Grab a plate and pull up a seat at a table. Join the conversation with a friend. Didn’t come with one? No problem, make one! Share your story and what God spoke to you last night. Join us in the sanctuary for some opening thoughts and to orient your day in prayer.

Now let’s head to the breakout sessions! There are over 20 breakout sessions to choose from.

This is your chance to dig deep. We’ve gathered speakers who not only know about their field, but are actively engaged in it. Whether you want to learn more about human trafficking, serving refugees, understanding some of the racial tensions in our world, adoption or foster care, what it means to be truly “pro-life”, short term missions, caring for children with incarcerated parents, parenting kids who have faced trauma, poverty, addiction . . . there’s something for you. Be sure to check out the list of breakouts now, so you know how to plan your day.

We’re providing you lunch too, and an opportunity to connect with people whose hearts are burning with similar passions as yours. If you prefer to eat quietly and process all you’ve been learning, that’s fine too.

After lunch join us for a special General Session. Because it’s really easy to be overwhelmed with fears and what-ifs, we invite you to hear the stories of four everyday people from the Pittsburgh region who God called to step out of their comfort zone. And because our God is faithful, you’ll hear how He’s met them, provided for them, and continues to walk with them on their journeys.

 

Exhibitors: Connecting God’s Call for You with a First Step
Between breakout sessions visit the Imagine Exhibitors. We’ve gathered over 45 amazing exhibitors for you to connect with.

To clarify, we don’t have vendors. We invite local and national organizations who are on the front lines of serving our neighbors near and far so that as God whispers a direction to your heart, you can connect with someone right there and step out in obedience.

If you’re on the front lines already, we recognize sometimes you’re the one needing some support – our exhibitors offer those services too. You will not want to miss the wide variety of quality organizations that are there to engage with you.

 

The end –just the beginning
As Saturday afternoon draws to a close, and you drive off the campus, it is our prayer that God has spoken at least one thing to your heart, and that you will respond by taking that one next step.

Can you Imagine the difference we will make in our city, country and world if we each live out this extraordinary calling to love?

We can. It gives us chills.

 

Be sure to register for the Imagine Conference!

 


Erin Brothers, Co-Director of OrphanCare Ministry, North Way Christian Community

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I Embrace Grace

I embrace grace because two pink lines changed my life sooner than I could have imagined.

We were unwed and unworthy. And because some of the women in my family had a history of leaving, the thought of those genes coursing through my body made me ache for the growing baby inside me.

 

I embrace grace because on December 4th, 2013, God gave me the greatest gift I could ever imagine – Harlow Rose. My love for her was endless and I knew in that instant that He took away all of my fears about becoming her mother.

Because of her I also came to know of HIS love for ME.


I embrace grace because I can see how God has worked through her in our lives – to pull us in, to heal wounds, restore relationships, encourage prayer, give grace, and to have childlike faith. He made my heart break for other mamas who would go through unexpected pregnancies – the questioning and the feeling alone – I would go on to help lead Embrace Grace and walk alongside some of these amazing mamas and welcome their sweet babies.

 

 

I embrace grace because God has moved mountains for my family – through different states and jobs and another beautiful baby girl.

I can see all of our days and trials sewn together with His goodness and love and grace.

 

I embrace grace because God willing, I wake up to a pitter patter of footsteps each and every day. Or a ‘mama’ overheard on a monitor. I wake up knowing that no matter what the day before may have held, God’s grace comes in an abundance – and He will continue to provide for me if I lay it all down for Him.

Unplanned pregnancies aren’t easy. Motherhood is not easy.

It takes a village. Let’s BE that village.

 

I embrace grace because through the eyes of my children I have realized that

I AM worthy because I AM His.

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Grace and Embrace Life groups are happening all over the world!  Young women with unplanned pregnancies are receiving incredible love, support, and encouragement right inside the walls of the church.  Learn more about your local Embrace Grace and Embrace Life groups at the Imagine Conference.


 

Desiree Eonta, Embrace Grace of North Way Christian Community

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Embrace Life?

 

What do you think of when you hear the term pro-life?

Depending on where you live and what your personal experiences have been, you may have a variety of images or words come to mind. Hopefully some are positive, but most likely a lot are negative. Some of you might already be rolling your eyes, or moving your mouse towards the ‘x’. I pray you don’t. I pray you hear our hearts, and see how our ministry is on a mission to enact change through a positive and loving approach. Oh, how I pray that people see our love, and the love of our heavenly Father, through all we do.

You see, over the years the rhetoric around the sacredness of human life, and the term pro-life, has become so convoluted that we seem to have decided to shy away from the topic altogether. We are pro-life, but we don’t really know what that means. We give money each year in a baby bottle, but we don’t allow ourselves to really feel or think through these issues. We say we are pro-life and we may even vote pro-life, but do our actions show it? Could we defend our beliefs? Could we make necessary sacrifices that we expect others to make in difficult circumstances? We may be against abortion of children with disabilites, children conceived in rape, children conceived in incest, but do we truly make a place for these chidlren in our churches, communities, and lives? Do we help their parents feel supported and loved? Do we offer alternatives to abortion through the way of adoption?

I know pro-life issues are so difficult to address, but I believe God wants us all to think through these concepts – maybe even squirm through some of them – so that we can be motivated into genuine, love-based action. So that we can embrace the full image of our Creator and experience the joy He experiences when He looks upon one of His beloved. Yes, this is a sensitive, controversial issue that is sometimes difficult to approach with love and compassion. We know because these are things our team prayerfully considers in every single thing we do. But this is also why our team is seeking to change the conversation about the sacredness of human life. May we be known by our love – by what we are for, not against. And we are on a mission to remind the Christian community that the pro-life movement is for each one of us. And acting on your pro-life beliefs doesn’t mean you have to pray outside of an abortion clinic, or march on Capitol Hill, although we applaud and encourage those who do. But every single one of us has an important role to play in protecting the God-given blessing of each precious image bearer, and fully embracing all life.

Embrace Life Ministries of North Way Christian Community believes that abortion is primarily a spiritual issue.  It’s a symptom of the larger issue at hand, like poverty, slavery, human-trafficking, the orphan crisis, and so on.  The issue?  The devaluation of human lifeA failure to see all lives through the eyes of God.  When we, as a culture, choose to determine that another person or group of people’s lives are less valuable than our own, people suffer.  And when we, as a society, decided that a preborn child’s life was not valuable, the ripple effects were catastrophic.  Today, children with disabilities, children with illnesses, children of the “wrong” gender, children who came to be at the “wrong” time, in the “wrong” way, or amidst the “wrong” situation have somehow become less worthy of life.

Surely this mindset breaks the heart of God.  Surely Christians must work to change this.

Our ministry is on a mission to see an end to abortion, not necessarily through politicians or court rooms, but through the hearts of people – through a cultural transformation arising from the love and compassion of the body of Christ. We seek to do this by building a culture that values and defends all lives regardless of size, age, ability, dependency, race, ethnicity, and social economic status. We have 4 main goals as a ministry, complete with action steps and a champion leader for each area:

 

1. Educate about issues related to the sacredness of life – social media, writing and speaking, Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
2. Encourage alternatives to abortion and support those who choose life – support birth moms and single moms choosing to parent; support a culture of adoption; Embrace Grace and Embrace Grace Alumni Group
3. Offer healing to those who have experienced an abortion – promote post-abortive healing groups and spread the message of grace and forgiveness to the church and community
4. Embrace all lives as a unique representation of the image of God – annual prom for individuals with special needs; special needs advocacy, support, and inclusion in the church

We are also in the process of adding to our goals – working hard to encompass end-of-life care, miscarriage and infant loss, and care for those who receive an adverse prenatal diagnosis.  Through these goals and action steps we desire to contribute towards a world where each and every human being is seen through the eyes of their Creator—where every person is recognized as having intrinsic value, and they are treated as such.

This is why we love and support the Imagine Conference. Every single opportunity presented at this conference encourages us to do our part in upholding the dignity of human life. Support a single mom, sponsor a family in need, engage in foster care, love on orphaned or abandoned children, mentor a child who is without a father, serve refugees, speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, promote justice and equality, act on behalf of those living in poverty, and so much more. Each time you serve your neighbor you are reminding yourself, and those around you, what it truly is to be pro-life.

So, why Embrace Life?

Because every single life has inherent value and it is our job—no, our privilege—to act on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

Come find your place at the Imagine Conference, and let’s get to work.

Register for the Imagine Conference

 


Alicia Terhune, Co-Director of Embrace Life Ministries, North Way Christian Community

 

 

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