The Commission

by Don Abbey
Recently Chris and I finished watching the third season of “The Chosen.” I was mesmerized by the portrayal of how Jesus chose, taught and encouraged his disciples. We all know how the story goes: He selected a band of ragtag individuals from various backgrounds and identities; He asked them to follow him without many, if any, questions; He taught them by performing signs and wonders; He preached through stories (parables) that were relatable and relevant to the times. And then He asked them to go two by two to the “corners of the world” to share the Good News of God’s Kingdom. Yes, the disciples had doubts and anxieties over this assignment because they didn’t feel worthy or even up to the task. They didn’t think they were qualified or equipped to handle such a monumental undertaking.

I think, sometimes as disciples of Jesus, we might feel the same. However, Jesus was clear to each of us in Matthew 28: 18-20. Here we find the “marching orders” from Jesus that we know as the Great Commission. I think there are two things we should remember about this passage. First, these words are a command and not a suggestion. That’s why it is the Great Commission and not the Great Suggestion! These words were given to every follower of Jesus. If I am His disciple, I am commanded to go and make disciples of others. Secondly, some believe that to fail to do this could be a sin. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is a sin.” This is called a sin of omission, which is not doing what you are supposed to do. A thought to certainly ponder!

The Commission is not to wait for the world to come to us; it is to go into all of the world. Are you going into all of “your world?” Am I doing the same? If we are not trying to make disciples of others, then maybe, we are not being the disciple God wants us to be. These words were not only given to the original apostles, nor were they exclusively for pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. They are for every follower of Jesus. They are for us! It doesn’t necessarily mean we are to cross the sea. But certainly a good start would be crossing the street to talk to a neighbor.

I am struck by the contemporary Christian musicians and singers called Cain. Chris and I heard them in concert two summers ago. Their worship song titled “The Commission” tells the story of His command to the disciples and others. Pay close attention to the lyrics as you listen to this beautiful song ( Yes, “go tell the world about me.” Interestingly, this song is 3 minutes and 16 seconds long. A coincident, I think not! Blessings, as you serve our Lord!


Foster the Family

by Aimee Moul

This past year I read a book titled, “Foster the Family”, written by Jamie C Finn. Some of you may already know, our daughter, Sarah and our son-in-law, Jacob are foster parents. They had their approval meeting on January 27, 2023. In preparation for helping them with the children, I have been reading a lot of books on foster care. Hands down, this is the best one I have read so far. (Thank you, Deb Trojak!)

This book has changed me and my thinking in many ways. As a foster parent, Jamie is often in the position to not only care for foster children but also the biological parents of these children. Jamie talks about her struggles with the
biological parents and how she classifies them as enemies. She states that this helps her because she then knows how to treat them because the Bible is clear on how we are to treat our enemies. The name “enemy” includes those that hurt her or the children a little or a lot.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6:27-28

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone…On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:17, 20

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a
blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
Matthew 5:44

Not easy, I know!

Jamie sums up her chapter on the topic this way: “God’s direction for dealing with our enemies is counterintuitive,
countercultural, seemingly counterproductive. I’m the first one to get my back up and stand up for myself and others, and verses about “blessing” and “doing good” are like a slap in the face to my sense of justice and righteousness and, well, self-righteousness.
“The ability to love our enemies is found in a deep trust in our God. In our finiteness, we think that if we don’t see and experience justice now, injustice must be reigning. But our God always reins. He will right every wrong and repair every broken thing. He will punish wrong and defeat evil. Sometimes He will even restore and redeem what we—in our limited wisdom—thought needed to be punished and defeated. In any case, God will have the final word with our enemies. In every case, He will reward our love to them.
“But friend, you were loved by God when you were hard to love. You still are. “beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). When I’m weary and weak and unwilling, I remember this love—shown to an enemy—that has colored ever part of my life. It is the love of Christ that made my dead heart alive and able to love and that gives me the strength to do all things, even love my foster child’s family. “

This is all very fascinating to me, but what does it mean to me? I may never meet a biological parent of a foster child, but all the same, I need to show love to those that hurt me and others “a little or a lot”. I need to love people who are different from me. I need to love people who think differently than me. I need to love those who persecute me. I need to love those that have a differing political view than me. I need to love people who look different from me. I need to love those that don’t like me. I need to love those that say mean things about me, true or not true. I think you get the picture. It all comes down to love. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with any sin associated with these our enemies, but we need to love the people committing those sins. In the words of Lord, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Although, God has been working this out in my heart for quite some time, God really got my attention when I read it in this book. This is such a challenge for me. Maybe you too?

Precious Heavenly Father, I thank you for this day and I pray that you help me to love like you love. You know that some are easier than others. Help me to see what you see in each of the people I come across. I know you created each one of us and you love each one of us. Help us to focus on the things we have in common, not our differences. Help us love you and people. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

by Laura Enslen
Pictures are so wonderful! Often, they can trigger a memory or tell a story. As a mom of three, I’m usually not the one in the pictures, but behind the camera capturing the smiles of those I love. Our dear brother, Pastor Polo captured this
picture however back in July 2022, and I am so thankful to have this image.
Although I am a mother here in the US to three extraordinary kids (ok…end mother brag here!), I am “mom” to some extraordinary kids that live in Dominican Republic. This sweet boy is called, Mario Felix. When we went on our team trip in March 2022, he was a student in the classroom that I was assigned. He is a student at our school at Batey 35 in the sugar cane fields of the DR; a school that so many of you here support. Mario Felix is one of many whose life has changed because of our school. He knows about His savior, Jesus Christ and his basic needs are provided for daily through the
education, care and nourishment he receives at Batey 35 school. Mario Felix has a way of capturing your heart with his sparkling eyes and dynamic personality.

There was a song some years back called, “When God Ran.” Part of the lyrics say, “He ran to me. He took me in his arms. Held my head to his chest. Said my son’s come home again. Lifted my face. Wiped the tears from my eyes. With
forgiveness in his voice He said, ‘Son do you know I still love you?’” What you can’t see in this picture was the surprise, joy and the fact that Mario Felix and I ran to each other just before this embrace. See, Mario didn’t know I was coming back in July. That embrace was God using me to show Mario that he is seen; He is not forgotten and God loves him so much. The Haitian boys and girls that live in the DR are often unseen. Their lives are very simple. Each day is the same as the next. Life in the Batey is monotonous at best and incredibly difficult at worst.

In Matthew 18, Jesus was asked about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven? Jesus takes the opportunity to teach the disciples that “whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (vs. 4-5) Children are treasured by the Lord. In the same chapter then, Jesus shares the parable of the wandering sheep and reminds them that a shepherd will leave the 99 sheep to find the one that has wandered off. “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” (vs. 14)

Please keep our team in prayer as 37 of us are traveling March 4-12 and will be serving alongside our staff at the school in Batey 35 to continue to share the love Jesus has for each of them.

Lord Jesus, thank you for saving us, for loving us, and for seeing each of us. There have been times in my life where I know you have run to me to remind me that you are my Father and you love me. May we each share that same love around us, and may the children in our lives know that they are gift not only to us in this world, but to their Heavenly Father. Amen.


Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Continue reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.


We Never Know In Life Whom We May Meet

by Deb Leib

A man went to the park and saw a little girl sitting by herself. Everyone passed by her and never stopped to see why she looked so sad. Dressed in a worn pink dress, barefoot and dirty, the girl just sat and watched the people go by. She never tried to speak. She never said a word. Many people passed by her, but no one would stop. The next day he decided to go back to the park in curiosity to see if the little girl would still be there. Yes, she was there, right in the very spot where she was yesterday, and still with the same sad look in her eyes. Today he was to walk over to the little girl. For as we all know, a park full of strange people is not a place for young children to play alone. As he got closer he could see the back of the little girl’s dress. It was grotesquely shaped. He figured that was the reason people just passed by and made no effort to speak to her. Deformities are a low blow to our society and, heaven forbid if you make a step toward assisting someone who is different. As he got closer, the little girl lowered her eyes slightly to avoid his intent stare. As he
approached her, he could see the shape of her back more clearly. She was shaped in a humped over form. The man smiled to let her know it was ok; he was there to help, to talk. He sat down beside her and opened with a simple, “Hello.” The little girl acted shocked, and stammered a quick “hi” after a long stare into the man’s eyes. The man smiled and she shyly smiled back. The two talked until darkness fell and the park was completely empty. Finally the man ask the girl why she was so sad. The little girl looked at him with a sad face and said, “Because, I’m different.” Immediately he said, ‘That you are!”, and smiled. The little girl acted even sadder and said, “I know.” “Little girl,” the man said, “you remind me of an angel, sweet and innocent.” She looked at him and smiled then slowly she got to her feet and said, “Really?” “Yes,” he said. “You’re like a little Guardian Angel sent to watch over all the people walking by.” She nodded her head yes, and smiled. With that she opened the back of her pink dress and allowed her wings to spread, then she said “I am. I’m your Guardian Angel,” with a twinkle in her eye. The man was speechless – sure he was seeing things. She said, “For once you thought of someone other than yourself. My job here is done.” The man got to his feet and said, “Wait, why did no one stop to help an angel?” She looked at him, smiled, and said, “You’re the only one that could see me,” and then she was gone. And with that, his life was changed dramatically.

I know in my life there were two incidents that I often wonder, could God have placed an angel in my path to see how I would react to that person? If they were angels, I pray I past the test. I really feel in my heart they were angels sent to earth in a human form. I hope one day I find out.

Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”



by Deb Trojak
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” Hebrews 10:24

Have you ever considered who has been a catalyst to you in your faith walk? This past month in the Pulse the teens focused on the word “catalyst” and what that meant in terms of faith. [A catalyst is something or someone that starts a reaction.] I had the chance to share with the youth group a few of the people that have “spurred on” my faith, and since then I’ve continued to mull over who has had an impact on my relationship with Jesus and why.

My great aunts, Welda Bell and Nancy Benedict come to my mind. They dragged my father kicking and screaming (literally) to VBS, were a huge influence on his faith, and were one of the reasons my parents met. They also invested time in my siblings and me. Under their supervision I attended CEF summer camp, did a summer missionary training in Baltimore, and organized a small group for my peers that met in their home.

My youth leaders in high school, Jason and Julie Chitester. They taught me how to dig into scripture and study the Bible. They asked deep questions and encouraged me to ask them as well. Their influence was a part of what helped me to
begin pursuing Christ and making my relationship with Him my own in a way that I had never done before.

The person in college who helped to reignite my faith, Shane Locke. I became the volunteer female youth leader at the church where he was leading the youth group. He was one of the people that drew me back to a faith I had walked away from. He also suggested I work at Christian summer camp, Camp Judson – where I ended up meeting my husband (and where we got the name for our oldest kiddo). My friendship with him set me on a different path from the one I was
headed down, and in some ways, changed my life forever.

My husband, Josh Trojak. A mutual friend from camp once commented that Josh was the same person both in the “camp bubble” and in the real world. Before I “liked” him, I was very aware that he was a man of integrity. And in the past 14 years, he is often the person that has redirected my focus when I take my eyes off of Christ and put them on myself.

This is just a small snapshot of all the people who have played such a huge role in spurring me on in my relationship with Christ. Grandparents, parents, siblings, relatives (both by blood and marriage), Sunday school teachers, pastors, mentors, bosses, coworkers, friends, authors, musicians…. The list goes on and on. There are so many people who have helped me deepen my relationship with Christ. Who called me out on sin that I needed to deal with. Who encouraged me and came alongside me when it seemed too hard to keep running towards Him. Who set an example that I want to follow.

Who has been a catalyst in your faith walk? My encouragement to you is to start making a list for yourself of who and why they specifically are someone who has impacted you. (Maybe even take some time to thank a few of them for what they’ve meant to you and your relationship with Christ.) Then take it a step further – Who can you be a catalyst for? We interact with people every day, and God has placed people in our lives that we can affect (for better or worse). What sort of catalyst will you be to those around you?