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.”


 

Does My Story Matter?

There are billions of people in the world, each with their own unique story to tell. So are we all just one more face in the crowd?

To learn more about Clear Creek Community Church, visit clearcreek.org

Follow us on social media:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/clearcreek.org​
Instagram –
https://www.instagram.com/clearcreekc​
Twitter –
https://www.twitter.com/_cccc/

The Joe Stockdale Story

For many of us, COVID hit and impacted our emotional and spiritual world. To varying degrees, we’ve all felt it over the last year. 

For Joe Stockdale, COVID limited his freedom, but led him down a path to true freedom through the Bible, a friend, and an online worship service.

To learn more about Clear Creek Community Church, visit clearcreek.org

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

Serving in the Church: The Rachel Chester Story

“The thing is, even when volunteering doesn’t end up being the perfect fit, it is still a gift to serve Jesus and his people in any way. God is always, always, faithful to us when we walk through doors he opens.”

As told by Rachel Chester

Once upon a time I went to law school.

I had always known that this was the plan; this is what I was going to do. I really liked law school. I did well, and so I was recruited by some big law firms who offered some big salaries.

When I actually started practicing law, however, I realized that aptitude and vocation aren’t necessarily the same. I just didn’t feel like I was a part of something that matters. Eventually, I walked away from my legal job and decided to reevaluate my career path while my husband and I started our family.

A couple of years later, while staying home with my kids, I increasingly felt God was calling me into ministry. That felt strange to say, and sometimes still does. After all, what does that even mean? How did I know? Well, I didn’t have a lot of answers. All I knew was that the church, the body of Christ, and theology was all I thought about.

But, I am a woman, and honestly, I didn’t know what the possibilities were. I was not looking to become the next Beth Moore (as if I could), and outside of that, I didn’t know what it meant to be a woman and be in ministry.

So when I heard Bruce talking about developing a marriage and family ministry with counselors, I immediately thought, This! This is something I can do! This is a way to love and serve people and use the gifts God has given me for something that really matters.

I applied and began taking classes at Dallas Theological Seminary in the biblical counseling department. I loved every second of it. I loved learning more about theology and counseling, but the thought of actually getting my license and counseling clients all day began to make me nervous.

All the time I was surer of God’s call to be in ministry, but less sure of what exactly that was supposed to look like. The closer I got to finishing, the more frustrating this became. The truth was, I just wasn’t sure I would be good at counseling, despite my belief in the importance of Christian counseling and the insights the program was teaching me.

About a year ago, I asked one of our pastors to help me think through what ministry could look like for me. And, boy, did he! He made me list my gifts and strengths on his whiteboard and then sat down with me to discuss what this meant I should pursue. While we were talking, he described a position the church might need someone for eventually: a person who would manage content that the church was putting out. For instance, every article someone wrote for the church would go through this person. I honestly remember thinking, I hope he’s not looking at me right now because that seriously sounds like the worst. I don’t want to manage anything, but definitely not documents other people are putting together. Yuck, boring, and no. He moved on quickly and I forgot about it. It was a generous, intentional conversation and I was grateful for his time.

I thought that was that.

But it was just the beginning.

A couple of days later, I got an email from another one of our pastors saying he’d heard I might be interested in volunteering and that he had some ideas of how I could help.

So, I went in to meet with him, and he talked to me about this new ministry they were kicking off called Clear Creek Resources. Their hope was to have different types of resources available so that church at Clear Creek was more than just a conversation on Sunday; it would be a conversation that continued throughout the entire week and involved current events, deeper theological dives, marriage, family, devotionals – every aspect of our lives!

He said he needed help getting articles and podcasts going. It still seemed like a weird fit for me, more like organization (which I am terrible at), but, I said I would give it a try. I had decided a few years ago that when God opened a door, I would walk through it, regardless of whether I felt equipped for that particular door or not.

So, I did.

I did the best I could to generate ideas for podcasts and articles, to find people around the church who would lend their gifts, expertise, and stories for the benefit of the church, and to think of new ways to serve our church through this ministry. I wrote a few articles myself and was convinced to start hosting podcasts too, despite my hesitation.

It turns out, the door God opened was a really great fit. It was not easy immediately. It took patience and humility and second starts, but soon enough I realized that God had known where I was going even when I felt like I was walking blind.

So much of how God created me, the gifts he has given me, the experiences of my life, even my varied education, have equipped me for this particular ministry. Clear Creek Resources is everything I am passionate about: celebrating the beautiful diversity of Jesus’s church, collaboration and relationship between devoted believers, deep discipleship that affects every aspect of life, and compelling engagement with the world in the name of Jesus. I love that I get to work with so many people, I love encouraging others to use their gifts, and I love being a small part of something that builds the kingdom of Jesus.

I’m still learning. I’m still trying to find my way as I serve my family and our King. But serving in Clear Creek Resources is a great gift and I’m so glad I said “yes.” I am grateful to be part of this team, and even more, I am grateful for God’s abundant personal care and faithfulness in my life.

The thing is, even when volunteering doesn’t end up being the perfect fit, it is still a gift to serve Jesus and his people in any way. God is always, always, faithful to us when we walk through doors he opens.

I also serve in First Impressions – I have for many years now – and it still is not a perfect fit for me. I get nervous about meeting strangers, I’m not great at remembering names, and I’m pretty introverted. But, the people I serve with are great friends – family even – whom I treasure walking through life with. I love serving with them, and I also love that I get to see every person’s face who walks in the door to worship.

The fact that I’m not necessarily great at it?

Well, it’s just a reminder that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness; that when I surrender to him and serve despite my shortcomings, he will use my meager offerings for his glory and the good of others, because of who he is, not because of who I am.

That’s what serving really is at the end of the day: an opportunity. An opportunity to play a small role in what he is doing; to surrender to him and then watch him work; where everything, our gifts and our weakness, are used as part of his great story.


God uses us all in different ways.

How can God use you to serve in the church?

Go to https://www.clearcreek.org/next-steps/serve/ to check out all of the serving opportunities.

You can also follow @clearcreekresources on Facebook and Instagram!

The Austin Webber Story

Check out the incredible story of how reading the Bible changed everything for Austin Webber. Watch the video here!

069: This Changes Everything – The Austin Webber Story

What if you had everything you ever wanted – your dream job, lots of money, a large house, and an expensive car – but you still felt empty? As Austin Webber found himself in that very place, he was challenged to read the Bible for himself. What started as a way to use his skills as a lawyer to disprove a faith he discarded long ago, ended with a confrontation with a truth he could no longer deny. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen talks with Austin about how Jesus changes everything.

Resources: 

readthroughthebible.org

064: When Only God Knows – The Jon Black Story

In the Clear Creek message series Unstoppable we learned that God, his gospel, and his church are an unstoppable force for good in the world. But sometimes, even though we know we should trust God, it’s hard to believe that he’s working things out in the here and now. On this episode, Clear Creek Story Team writer Jon Coffey sits down with Jon Black to talk about his checkered history with church, his years of wandering, and his battle with addiction. Through Jon Black’s story, whether we’re confronted with a tumultuous season of life like COVID-19, or a person who just can’t seem to get it right, we learn that God is always at work, even when we can’t see it.

RESOURCES:

Pathway to Peace

Hear more stories from Clear Creek Resources

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.


 

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.”

Small Group on Screens: The Strange Days of COVID-19

Diane Stell has been involved in small groups for all of the 20 years she and her family have been part of Clear Creek Community Church. She’s learned from every group experience, and each has been different, but not quite as different as the women’s group she began leading in the spring of 2020.

“It’s been a total, complete, virtual, quarantine group,” said Diane, describing her fledgling small group.

The group began with only a few women right before the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality in the Clear Lake area this past spring.

Then, quarantine and stay-at-home orders put normal life on hold for everyone. As routines were suddenly upended, it became clear that meeting as a church was not going to be the same again for quite some time.

“As time went on,” said Diane, “I would get two or three or four requests a week for women wanting to join our group. So we moved to Zoom really quickly. Now we have ten members.”

Diane spoke with each person over the phone as their initial meeting to tell them what the group was like and give them the option of joining or not. Nobody turned her down.

“I think a lot of these people would not have joined the group if there had not been a quarantine,” said Diane. “I don’t even think some of them knew they needed group as much as they needed group. Everyone I spoke to just needed to be connected, and that’s what group is. God made us that way. The first thing out of pretty much everybody’s mouth was ‘I just need to be connected to other people that are like minded,’ of course that like-mindedness being Jesus.”

Most of the women who joined Diane’s group had never been part of a small group or Bible study of any kind. Diane calls it “the most diverse group” she has ever been part of. It is made up of women aged 30-64 with varying differences in parenthood, marital status, careers, race, and family and church backgrounds.

“In the beginning, and this is typical of all groups, all you see are the differences,” said Diane. “But then very, very quickly, we bonded. And as we got to know each other I started seeing all the commonalities – how connected we are because of Christ. That’s the common thread that pulls us all together.”

In its short time together, this small group has experienced growth and unity in the midst of a difficult and ever-changing season, despite the fact that most of them have never met in real life.

“We’re just making the best out of a situation that’s not ideal,” said Diane. “I’m hoping that in the future we can meet socially-distanced.”

Even so, they’ve still managed to celebrate with one another. Recently, a member was baptized in an elder’s backyard pool. She shared the baptism video with her group and read her story of coming to faith to them at their Zoom meeting the following Tuesday night. It was a special moment they shared together.

Diane has been intentional about doing virtual game nights as well as Bible study. She’s done porch drop-offs for people needing a little encouragement, and group members call her and each other regularly to check in or just to talk and pray together.

“You can still do so much!” she said. “There’s some hard stuff going on. I feel like the group has really helped each other and been what we’re supposed to be as far as being a support for each other.”

For Clear Creek, small group has always been the physical anchor to the church — the way to know and be known by one another. Even though the in-person connection is absent from their meetings, Diane said there has not been much connection lost.

“In some ways it’s easier for people to meet this way — not having to get a babysitter, not having to ‘dress up,’” she said.

For the most part, Diane sees this group much like other groups she has led in the past. They have their ups and downs, their high moments and imperfections. But group now, during this especially strange time, is a special respite away from uncertainty and a step back towards what matters most.

“I’m really grateful for this group,” said Diane. “I’ve loved all of my groups, but I have a special heart for this one. It grounds me. It causes me to want to be closer to God. It’s changed my expectations of people in a good way. I’m having a softer heart and giving people more grace on certain things where before I’d be a little nitpicky.”

As Clear Creek gears up for Group Link in a time of uncertainty, Diane hopes people will remember that small group is still what it has always been.

“I have lots of Christian friends,” said Diane, “but group is different. Group is intentional. Group is prayer. Group is Bible study. Group is connection. Group is supporting each other.”

And she believes that being part of a small group now is “absolutely crucial.”

“I have witnessed just how much difference it’s made, having that connection,” she said. “While I think that’s true always, I think it is particularly true now. If this virtual connection is all we have, I’m so grateful we have it. God created us to be in community. It’s what’s good for us. It’s what’s best for us.”