Being the Church

As far as Josh Fasske knew, it was going to be another long and cold work night driving around the greater League City area.

The last few days had passed like a whirlwind for him and his wife, Brittani, owners of Grand Slam Plumbing, a small business they started in 2017. As Winter Storm Uri wreaked havoc in League City, Josh and his small crew worked long days and nights and even into the early hours of the morning to restore running water to their customers.

They were already slammed just a few days into the storm, and Josh was exhausted physically and mentally. Not only was he working around the clock to help panicked customers, but he and his wife and young children were displaced from their apartment as their building went without electricity and running water.

It was on such a night the week of the storm that Josh received a welcome surprise from fellow church member, Vijay Rajaji.

“I was at a job in Seabrook,” Josh recalled. “When Vijay got there, he sent me a text that said ‘Hey, come outside.’ I saw it and thought he sent it to the wrong person, so I called him. He said ‘Hey, come outside. I’ve got something for you.’”

Vijay had brought Josh food.

“Not just food,” Josh said, “it was a warm meal, which I wasn’t getting a whole lot of.”

Before Vijay left, he told Josh, “If you’re out and about, I’m going to be out and about. However long you’re doing this, I’m going to be bringing you food every night.”

And Vijay kept his promise.

 

***

 

Years ago, Sonia and Vijay Rajaji experienced one of the most traumatic events of their lives. Their first child, Maya, was born premature, just shy of 26 weeks gestation. She spent the next three-and-a-half months in the NICU and the remainder of her first year at home under strict guidelines in order to avoid any communicable illnesses.

Sonia and Vijay were fairly new believers attending Clear Creek Community Church. Neither had been raised in families that invited other people into their personal lives, but this new church life was challenging all that they understood about community. For five months, the people of Clear Creek — a few friends, but mostly strangers — brought meals to the Rajajis three times a week in order to serve them and help them get through that tough season.

“I thought we didn’t need it,” Sonia recalled. “I didn’t understand how meals help. After I came out of that season and out of the shock, I realized this is what church family is all about. This is about serving people even when they don’t think they need it. And it’s hard to take help.”

“That was the thing that really changed me,” Vijay added. “When you’re a new believer, you pick up everything by osmosis. You say what people say, you do what people do, and you think that’s the baseline. And so, because we were so new, my expectation became if you’re going through something, the church takes care of you, period. That’s just the expectation.”

Maya thrived, and Sonia and Vijay continued growing in their faith at Clear Creek. Later, they took the Financial Peace University course in order to gain a better understanding of how to get out of debt as well as how to honor God with their financial resources.

“One of the things that came out of that for us was creating a line item in our budget for generosity,” Sonia said.  “When we have it in our budget, it gives us freedom to be generous. God has given us all this financial security. So, part of our responsibility as believers is to show people his love.”

As the years have passed, the Rajajis have given help to many church members and those outside the church in an effort to show God’s love. They’ve also received help many times from their church family and have had to learn over and over again to accept help.

“We just make people take our help,” she laughed. “We [have been] served so well that we can’t say ‘no’ to people when they say, ‘Can we help you?’”

The week of the winter storm, Sonia had been praying specifically for a way to serve someone “over the course of time.” When she saw a Facebook post Brittani Fasske made one late night about delivering dinner to her husband who was out repairing customer’s pipes, she knew God was leading them to serve the Fasskes in a specific way.

“A lot of times people don’t know what they need,” Sonia said. She and Vijay had known the Fasskes as acquaintances through church, having served together at different times through the years. She knew they had two young children, they ran their business from home, that they were currently displaced from their home and normal routine, and she saw that Josh was working a crazy amount of hours doing a very necessary job in a moment of crisis. Their need became clear.

“We can work this into our schedule easily,” she realized. “We can do this as long as we need to because he needs to eat!”

Vijay was totally on board.

 

***

 

Brittani excitedly answered the phone when her husband called that night. She knew Vijay would have delivered the meal by now, as she had secretly helped by giving Vijay the address where Josh was working that night.

“I could tell he was emotional so that made me emotional,” she said.

“It just made me feel pretty special and important that they would take time out of their day to bring me food, which seems like something pretty small,” Josh said. “But when you’re working that much and not seeing your family, it’s actually something really huge. It really made me feel loved and taken care of.”

Josh also expressed the importance of being appreciated for his hard work in an extreme season.

“A lot of times, working a lot of hours and irregular days in plumbing just seems normal,” Josh said. “Plumbing problems happen all the time, so it really becomes a normal thing that people don’t really think about. But when a natural disaster happens, long hours really get pushed to the extreme. A lot of times it goes unnoticed. But for somebody to realize, He’s away from his family. He’s not getting a good meal at night. For them to see that need and come running to help me out was really cool.”

The friends took notice.

“They said, ‘That’s the kind of church I want to be part of. That’s the kind of love a church should show to their church family,’” recalled Brittani.

Once over the course of serving Josh, Vijay and his son, Samir, were able to also take a meal to one of Josh’s employees who was on a job with him. The man was dumbfounded by Vijay’s generosity.

“Seeing him ask questions like Why are you doing this for me? was so awesome,” Vijay recalled. “I have been praying that I will get to see him at church someday, his life changed.”

And it was not lost on Vijay that his son got to witness the exchange.

“We hope that by the way we live our lives our children see how you love people,” said Vijay.

“Being the church” was a theme that had the greatest impact on Josh during his chaotic work season.

“We want people to see the difference of a church that takes care of each other… and helps any way they can,” Josh said. “The people don’t just go to church; they go out and they are the church.”

“When a community is in need, our church and community steps up,” Brittani added. “It’s just like This isn’t a burden for us. This is my way to serve you. And they do it with an open heart and open mind. I always feel proud to be part of our community and our church.”

 

***

 

Sonia and Vijay continued to serve the Fasske family for another two months. Both families made it clear that serving is not just about being on the giving or receiving end — everyone benefits from service and generosity because it is simply an expression of God’s abundant love for his people.

“At first I thought I didn’t want to inconvenience anybody from taking time out of their day, even though it was a nice thought,” said Josh. “But I remembered back to when we were in a small group with Aaron Lutz. He once said, ‘You don’t want to take away somebody’s opportunity to serve you because it might be a next step of growth for them.’”

That “next step of growth” can be something life-changing or just another small way that God molds us further into the likeness of Christ – the one who has served us most generously. Sonia emphasized the importance of serving as a way to take the focus off ourselves to see others more clearly, the way God sees us.

“When we are serving others,” Sonia said, “it helps us grow in our devotion to God. This is one of the things we can do to try to diminish our selfishness and serve somebody else without expecting anything in return.”


 

066: Stories of Generosity

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is coming. It’s officially the holiday season. And with that comes lots of talk about gift giving and generosity. But what is biblical generosity and what does it look like? Is it something special we do this time of the year? Is it simply tithing? Or is it something even more? On this episode, Jon Coffey sits down with two representatives from Clear Creek’s Generosity Team, Matthew Horne and Nicole Daniel, to talk about the concept of Whole-Life Generosity, and hear real stories of people from Clear Creek Community Church putting it into action in order to reflect the generosity God first showed to us.

Resources:

God and Money by Gregory Baumer and John Cortines

22 Ways to Live Whole-life Generosity During Tough Times (article)

Air Support

If you want to join the ongoing Hurricane Laura relief effort, visit clearcreek.org/disasterresponse to find more information and ways to get involved.


“I think God was telling me, ‘Hey, you have the ability, and you have the resources. You need to go do something.’”

– John Williams

On Sundays that aren’t in the midst of a global pandemic, you might find John Williams behind a camera during services at Clear Creek Community Church’s Egret Bay Campus.

Last Sunday, he was behind a different kind of service: helping deliver over 4,000 pounds of supplies to the people of Westlake in the wake of Hurricane Laura… via airplane.

 

 

 

 

John, a former Air Force pilot, co-owns and operates Flying Tigers Flight School at Ellington Airport, and says he got the idea on his way to work last week.

“I remember after Harvey, all the Cajun Navy guys showed up to help us out,” John said. “I’m driving to work, and I’m like, I’ve got nine airplanes. How about I load ‘em up and take them some stuff?

So, John and a few friends blasted out a request for supplies on Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor. And then the donations started coming in.

“Those donations came in from total strangers,” John said. “Random people would show up, and just be like, ‘I don’t know you, but here’s some stuff.’ People just came out of everywhere.”

A friend of a friend even got John connected to a lady who had volunteered to set up a distribution center for supplies and aid in Westlake and the surrounding area near Lake Charles.

On Sunday morning, John, his friend and neighbor, Warren, and flight instructors from Flying Tigers loaded up the five available planes, and flew the cargo to Westlake.

“When we got there, they met us with pickup trucks,” John said. “By the next day it was all delivered, it was all handed out. They said it was gone.”

But that wasn’t all.

While John and his team were there, they asked if there was anything else they could do to help.

“She said, ‘People haven’t had a hot meal here in a week.’” John relayed. “So we decided we’re going to do a little hot meal coming up this Saturday, the twelfth. It started as this small conversation, and then my buddy Warren says, ‘You know, Jesus fed 5,000. Let’s do that.’ I said, ‘You’re crazy. That was Jesus.’ He said, ‘No, let’s do it.’ So bottom line, we’ve been planning all this week and we’re feeding 5,000 people on Saturday in Westlake.”

John and his army of cooks and volunteers will leave the planes in the hangar this time around, hauling 450 pounds of meat and 400 pounds of noodles down I-10 and preparing the meal on site.

“God provides everything we have. It’s all his. So how do we use his resources that he’s given us?”

– John Williams

If you want to join the ongoing Hurricane Laura relief effort, visit clearcreek.org/disasterresponse to find more information and ways to get involved.


 

054: Christianity and Money

How does your faith affect how you think about money and how you steward your own resources? Should you tithe? Is it ok to use your money on something fun? Why is money a sticky topic for churches? During the Sticky message series, we’re sitting down with preachers right after they finish preaching to continue the conversation. On this episode, Rachel talks with Ryan following his sermon, “Christianity and Money.”

Resources:

Redeeming Money by Paul Tripp

The Economics of Neighborly Love by Tom Nelson

“Does God Care About My Finances?” by Mark Carden

Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn

Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley

Wednesdays at Home: Share Your Story

This is our mid-week opportunity to stay connected online with our pastors to receive mid-week scriptural encouragement, prayer, and updates on how we are responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

To find out more information about our church, go to www.clearcreek.org.

Follow us on social media:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/clearcreek.org
Instagram – www.instagram.com/clearcreekcommunitychurch
Twitter – www.twitter.com/_cccc

4 Hours in Orange

Like many others in the League City area, Jason and Melissa Davidson kept close tabs on updates on Hurricane Laura as it prepared to make landfall last week.

The Davidsons, who live in Friendswood and attend Clear Creek Community Church’s West Campus, had experienced the horrors of Harvey three years ago (almost to the day), and were preparing again for what they knew no could ever really prepare for.

But that was all before Laura spun away from Galveston and crashed into the Texas-Louisiana border as a Category 4 hurricane.

The Davidsons were left feeling relieved for their own home, family, and community, but knew that just a few hours away people were hurting and would need help.

 

“I kept seeing all my old Facebook posts of our house under water,” Melissa said. “[During Harvey] we had all of these people show up at our house, and 80 percent of them I didn’t even know their name. I don’t know what we would’ve done without that. What a blessing it was for our family.”

“Whether it’s a hurricane and someone’s house has four feet of water in it, or it’s a tornado and their house is obliterated, for everybody it’s kind of the same feeling, like, Whoa! What I’ve known for so long is now gone, and, Who is going to help me get through this? knowing very well that you can’t do it on your own,” Jason said. “A lot of times there’s remorse of not being in a situation to help them. But this being a little closer to home makes it easier to do, and to give the resources that I do have.”

So at 5 a.m. on Sunday, August 30, the Davidsons, along with their two boys (ages 11 and 8) loaded up the car, and drove to meet a few other families from Clear Creek at the Chick-Fil-A on I-45 and El Dorado, and then headed out to go try to help where they could in Orange, TX.

Once they arrived in Orange, the Davidsons and the rest of their crew met up with a friend from a church in nearby Beaumont who set them to work removing trees and debris from the roads.

Because many homes are still without power, the removal of fallen tree debris is one of the biggest current needs in the community so that electricians and other specialists can get to where they need to go in order to do their work.

“For them this wasn’t a flooding event,” Jason said. “They had a ton of high wind, so they had a tremendous amount of tree damage. I mean, huge, huge trees just toppled over with the roots and everything.”

In total, the Davidsons and company spent about four hours working on a five-block stretch of road in one neighborhood, enduring hot sun and a short rain shower.

They hopped in the car around noon and headed home, exhausted, but glad to have gone.

“These are our neighbors as the Bible refers to them,” Melissa said. “It’s difficult to put into words what it’s like when someone does something for you in a sacrificial way – time, money, sweat. They do that for you, and they don’t even know you.”

“I’m not just going there to help clear a tree or help someone move a piece of furniture or something like that. But, hopefully in the area we’re going into, the people go, ‘Wait a minute, these people don’t even live here. They don’t have a stake in this community. But they came all the way out here to help.’” Jason added. “For me, I care less about how much work I actually get done, and more about am I potentially helping to change someone’s heart?”

(Swipe to see more photos →)

The Davidsons were adamant that the work is not finished in Orange, Lake Charles, and the surrounding area, and that the opportunity will remain open for the foreseeable future as those affected by Laura begin to move forward.

“Don’t think this is just going to be a one or two-week thing,” Melissa urged. “If you couldn’t make it out there last weekend or can’t this coming weekend, I guarantee you in five weeks there will still be work to do.”

If you want to get involved, visit clearcreek.org/disasterresponse for a list of opportunities to serve including trips with Eight Days of Hope, ways to pray and give, and a list of needed supplies and where you can drop them off.

“I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they don’t have a skillset that’s not good enough,” Melissa said. “We’re not electricians or contractors or anything like that. But we do have hands and when people break stuff down, we can shovel, we can sweep, and we can help carry it away. There’s always something you can do… if you’re willing to sweat.”

Service with a Smile

For over a decade there has been a men’s small group that meets on Friday mornings at 6 a.m. at a local Denny’s. Many of the faces have changed through the years, but a few have remained the same, including Navigator Pete Fuller, and one of the group’s two usual waitresses, Angie.

Just before the COVID-19 swept through the nation, the transmission in Angie’s car went out and she no longer had a way to get to work. Then the government orders went into effect and Denny’s was forced to close its doors, leaving Angie without the job she’d held for over 15 years.

As their usual meeting place was no longer available, Pete quickly thought about Angie and wondered how she was faring without a car and a job. He gave his number to a few of the Denny’s employees to see if he could get in contact with her.

It wasn’t until almost two months later that Pete got a call from Angie letting him know that she was okay, but that she’d had to move in with her daughter, a single mom of six.

“I picked up the story about that time, and so I started reaching out to see if anybody had a used car,” Pete said. “And then the small group guys were talking about pitching in… But outside of our group, I had a couple people just because I posted on Facebook… And a couple of my friends, just from reading that, pitched in.”

On top of people wanting to help purchase a car, one couple whose kids Pete used to coach in soccer, reached out to Pete with two cars they were willing to sell. Pete went over, inspected the cars and purchased one from them, knowing it was going to need a little work.

So Pete took it home, parked it in his driveway and went to work cleaning the car up, fixing a few parts here and there, and giving it a tune up to get it ready.

“I don’t normally do that kind of work,” Pete, an instrument engineer, said. “But I was happy with how it came out… The people who sold me the car saw my pictures and they said they couldn’t believe it was the same car.”

But on top of fixing the car up, the group decided to gift Angie with six months of insurance completely paid for, and an inspection so that it would be road ready when she got it.

In total, about eight people combined to raise the money needed to gift Angie the car.

“I really believe I was put here to serve,” Pete said. “I think my calling is to serve in whatever capacity I can. I know we’re supposed to be missionaries. Clear Creek has recently, kind of explained that being a missionary isn’t necessarily going over to Honduras and working over there for two years, or whatever… That’s what I always thought a missionary was. And you know, I’m grateful that there’s people who do that, that just wasn’t ever me. But I’ve always felt the need to serve… When I see people in need, it works on my heart.”

From Left to Right: Debi Fuller (Pete’s Wife), Pete Fuller, Angie, Nelson Kennedy (CCCC Attender).

22 Ways to Live Whole-Life Generosity During Tough Times

This article was originally published on April 1, 2020 by Generous Church and posted here by permission. You can read the original article here.


Whole-Life generosity is needed more during times of struggle than in times of surplus.

Here is a list of 22 simple yet impactful ways that you can encourage people in your church to practice generosity to those right around them.

 

Practice gratitude:

In other words, refuse to be a complainer. Instead, look for the positive and then share it with others. Rather than contacting the complaint department whenever something is wrong, commit to only contacting businesses when you receive good customer service or excellent product delivery. Memorize and practice Colossians 3:15.

Share your stuff:

Have extra of some things? Why not share with those who don’t? Right now, things like toilet paper, disinfectant, hand cleaner, etc. are in short supply. Donate them to neighbors, local shelters and nursing homes. Then make it a habit to share your stuff with others from now on.

Remember the homeless:

These folks are always at risk but especially now. Call your local homeless shelter and ask what they need, then deliver what you can.

Help the youth:

Older generations have a lot to share with younger people. If you’ve faced previous hardships, your experience can provide fresh perspective and comfort to kids who are struggling with their current situation.

Shop local:

Call first, then order delivery or carry out. While there, buy some gift cards and give some away or keep some for future use.

Give blood:

The American Red Cross has a huge shortage right now. Once the current situation has passed, you’ll already know how easy it is to do donate regularly.

Support the service industry: 

Prepay your barber, hair salon, the babysitter, etc. using Paypal, Venmo or Apple Pay. Send them a note letting them know you care.

Go senior shopping:

Perhaps you can run errands, pick up groceries (even medications with permission) for the elderly and those who are immuno-compromised.

Get some exercise:

The gym maybe closed, but your neighbors need some yard work done. Call and ask if you can help out. Be the person who brings everyone’s trash bins back to the garage after the collection trucks have left your neighborhood. One Kansas City metro neighborhood had a person who did this every week for those on his street. After a while he was given the honorary title of “Mayor” for his subdivision because of this one simple but thoughtful act.

Order some flowers:

Have them delivered to a place of business that remains open or other “essential” organization. Include a note letting them know you’re praying for them.

Use technology:

Apps like Nextdoor let you see if any neighbors have asked for help. Reach out to them and be a blessing.

Help local food banks:

Call first to ask what they need. Things like funds, food, or volunteer help.

Stay connected:

Texting is fine. Email is okay. But picking up the phone and calling someone is even better. Consider using Zoom or FaceTime to stay in touch. This is good for both your friend and your own soul.

Reconsider your finances:

Now is the time to examine your spending, saving and especially your giving practices. Prayerfully consider what needs to change in the area of financial generosity. We’re not talking about tithing – we’re talking about living generously, being radical with the resources God has entrusted to you. Luke 6:38

Remember widows and orphans:

You can never go wrong being generous to those who are at risk and vulnerable. James 1:27

Order food:

Place the order and have it delivered…to someone else! Firefighters, EMTs, Paramedics, hospital staff, and many others would be delighted to have a box of fresh donuts, a couple of hot pizzas or some excellent Barbeque delivered to their workplace.

Remember your church: 

Consider volunteering for an area of ministry you know is always lacking help. Contact the appropriate staff member now and let them know you’re “all in” when services resume. Then keep your promise. Also, remember to contribute faithfully. Malachi 3:10

Pray and fast: 

We’re commanded to pray without ceasing. Now is a perfect time to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting.

Write some notes:

Nothing beats a handwritten note. Sit down with pen and paper, jot a brief message of encouragement and drop it in the mail. Everyone loves getting personal mail. Remember the old saying regarding letters, “You have to write them to get them.”

Enjoy being quarantined: 

Stay home and use the extra time to get some cleaning, organizing or simple projects done. Staying home helps protect you have health risks and protects those around you, too.

Be creative:

These are just a few ideas, but I bet you can come up with many others. Keep the current restrictions in mind and make your ideas fit the context of your current situation.

Remember who you are:

Or better put, remember to Whom you belong. As Americans we have the right to free speech. As Christians we have the authority to speak truth. But we have to earn the right to be heard. When you speak, be positive, loving, caring, and gentle. Live out the Fruit of the Spirit. Call your neighbor to ask how you can help them. Ask if you can pray for them. Share a favorite passage of Scripture with them. Be generous in love!

Bold Love Update

008: Bold Love Update with Chris Alston and Ryan Thomas

In this episode, Ryan Lehtinen speaks with Chris Alston and Ryan Thomas about the current state of the Bold Love campaign. They also provide the most up-to-date information about the West Campus land and building project.