Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Neighborhood Bible Study Results

So we had 11 people come for our first neighborhood Bible Study on Sabbath. Two people who had never attended from the neighborhood came as well as three who visited from other congregations for the first time. We covered the parable of the "prodigal son" - with an emphasis on both sons. (Luke 15) We used some concepts from the book, "The Prodigal God."

We explored how the sensually oriented younger son wanted control over his own destiny, even at the expense of others. After hitting rock bottom, he was also convinced the father could not accept him back. It was like he didn't think his father could forgive him for all the bad tings he had done with his life. He grossly misjudged his father's reaction - like some of us who think God could never forgive us either.

On the other hand, the morally compliant elder brother was cold, judgmental of his little brother and thought the father even owed him something for his years of service. Funny how he saw his life as "slaving" for his father (NIV - vs 29.)

He didn't see what was missing and his idea that his righteousness was established by being rigidly controlled by a sense of obligation. That attitude robbed him of his father's loving heart. He could not accept the father's judgment either - but from a very different perspective.

One can only imagine the arguing that must have gone on between those two boys when they were growing up. In the story, it was obvious that the elder brother still resented his "sinner" sibling.

It was also as though the younger son expected is father to treat him like the older brother wanted him treated. One wonders if the morally compliant elder brother expected the younger brother to "earn" his way back into the family.

In the first two verses of Luke 15 you see who the audience was: The sensually-oriented tax collectors and "sinners" and the morally "compliant" religious leaders (the Pharisees and teachers of the law.) In a real sense, both brothers had lost their way, though by very different means. Both needed to repent before they could go in and join the celebration.

Interesting how those polar opposite attitudes are still around today - churches, families, political parties - pretty much everywhere. It isn't so much an issue of "balance" between the two extremes. Rather, there is a "wholeness" that integrates both being "real" with God and accepting the moral obligations that come with forming a Christian covenant with God the Father through Jesus Christ.

God knows how bad we can be - and still loves us. He knows how easy it is to judge others and exalt ourselves - and still loves us too.

God understands how easy it is to become extreme - and wants us to be whole, complete and fulfilled as His sons and daughters. Both brothers needed to see a different side of their lives that was hidden to them by the sins of sensuality or self-righteousness. The better we understand and embrace the fundamentals of our relationship with God, the more mature, sound-minded and filled with a sense of purpose we become.

Until next time,

Guy Swenson

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Camp Outreach a Success!

Twice as many volunteers as last year helped Camp Outreach - Indianapolis reach out to people in the Stringtown neighborhood. "Stringtown" is the first neighborhood west of downtown Indianapolis. The 1,200 households include a large number of young families and senior citizens who are wrestling with the impact of a very high unemployment rate, the pervasive use of drugs and a struggle to overcome years of neglect.

This year we painted homes, rehabbed two bathrooms, (one in an orphanage), rebuilt a porch, edged & cleaned out gutters, landscaped, repaired the foundation of a home, replaced screens and window glass and did flooring projects. We partnered with the Stringtown Neighborhood Association to collect junk that had been thrown into alleys and streets. The City of Indianapolis came and collected a huge amount of debris.

On Friday there was a event that caused concern - one of our young men was walking from a job site back to Ana's House (the local food pantry that has supported our efforts) and came upon two men beating and kicking a woman. He ran up to them yelling. As the attackers were backing into their car to get away, one of them leveled a gun at him. Our young man backed off as other neighbors came running out of their homes, one swinging a golf club. The attackers fled in their car. An ambulance and police came and attended to the woman.

We are both proud of this young man stepping up to defend a woman in need and sobered by the fact that evil is so rampant and with ministry, there can be some level of risk. I am reminded when Jesus talked of "the Good Samaritan" to describe what it means to love your neighbor in Luke 10, it was in the context of a robbery and a beating.

We also hosted a week long neighborhood vacation Bible school for kids - as many as 57 children came on a single day. That's twice what we had last year. We fed them (and other neighbors) breakfast and lunch. We had a Bible story, crafts, activities and they learned a song and a play about the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.

On Sabbath, we had a neighborhood celebration. More than 150 people - over a hundred from the neighborhood - came out in the heat and humidity for "church" outside. Common Ground's music team played worhship songs, we had special music, the children performed their play (with costumes!), sang their song and I gave a short message on being a "Covenant Christian."

Afterward we served hot dogs, nacho cheese, beans and drinks while the kids played games outside. It was a fun day celebrating the community-wide effort.

We have more than "adopted" the Stringtown neighborhood. We are a part of the community. Over the past 9 months we have been hired unemployed men from the neighborhood to rehab an old home in Stringtown to become a Common Ground Ministry House. It will serve as a meeting place and will host several men at a time who are looking to reboot their lives through honest labor in a drug and alcohol free and Christian environment.

Camp Outreach is about connecting people with the basics of ministry that we as Christians are taught do. Once again this year we saw the healing of the heart that takes place when Christians go out of their way to care for the sick, the hungry, the poor and those imprisoned and oppressed by sin.

Enjoy the pictures from the link below - they only tell a fraction of the good done by Christians sharing the love of God with their neighbors


Guy Swenson

Camp Outreach - Indianapolis 2010 Photos

Monday, June 14, 2010

Camp Outreach - a Mission in America

Our first “Camp Outreach” of 2010 – a “mission” in America – is about a month away. As of today, 43 young people and families from all over the country are coming together to work in “Stringtown,” a very poor neighborhood on the near-west side of Indianapolis.

This year we have an abundance of work projects for widows, the elderly, the poor, the fatherless and orphans. We’re also working with the new local neighborhood association to engage people in the neighborhood to work alongside of us. Partly as a result of our efforts last year, there has been a huge growth in the willingness of the community to help each other.

One of the most exciting aspects of the Indianapolis Camp Outreach is our ministry to neighborhood children. We’ve been holding a monthly Sabbath “Kid’s Camp” in the neighborhood and have had as many as 40 local children attend with us. During Camp Outreach we will run an expanded version this activity from 9 AM to 2:45 PM where we teach children stories from the Bible, have crafts that relate to the values from the Bible stories, activities, music and food.

Food for the kids is important: we feed breakfast and lunch to neighborhood children during the summer because many of them rely on school breakfasts and lunches during the school year but have a skimpy diet during the summer. It is hard to believe that there are hungry children in America – but there are.

At the end of Camp Outreach, we are inviting the entire neighborhood for a Sabbath celebration of all the work accomplished. The neighborhood kids will perform a Bible-based play about “every day miracles,” the theme of the week. We will have worship music, some short messages and food.

For an undertaking of this size, we appreciate people and congregations to partner with us. Thank you for your prayers and support.

If you have people who want to come but have not sent in an application, go to and navigate to the form that is online. The deadline was June 1 – we can work some more in if we get the application right away.

If you want to sponsor someone or make a tax deductable donation, you can send it to Common Ground Christian Ministries, 7545 Rockville Road, Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46214.

Please keep praying for the success of our evangelism in Indianapolis – and for the change missions make in the people who minister to their neighbors in need.

Guy Swenson
Pastor, Common Ground Christian Ministries

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Moving Ahead

It continues to amaze me how many opportunities there are for becoming more involved in our adopted neighborhood of "Stringtown."( Stringtown is the first of the near west Indianapolis neighborhoods just west of downtown and the zoo.)

Our April outreach to neighborhood children had about 30 kids. Every time we do this we connect with more kids and become better friends with others and their families. Some of the neighborhood mothers helped this time with the crafts. As more people from the community become involved it truly represents a neighborhood effort to connect children with God and Jesus.

We added something new: music. Haun Dau and I played our guitars and sang simple children's songs with the kids. Interestingly, many of our kids had never heard some of the most simple and common of Christian songs. Now they have and when we closed our little "service" together we all sang together. I know, you never knew that I could play the guitar. Remember, I said "simple" songs!

In April my wife, Jennifer, with Stephanie Smith, Jeff Parker, Haung Dau and I finished our first series of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for this year. We made some great friends and helping our Spanish-speaking neighbors learn English has been good for everyone. Now I need to learn SSL - Spanish as a Second Language! (Seriously, I need a good Web/computer Spanish language training package - anybody know a real good one?)

We're excited about Camp Outreach this year. At the Church of God (7th Day) ministerial conference I attended last week I was able to discuss what ministries their congregations were doing. Those congregations that were growing were heavily involved in ministries to the poor. With our friends at the Lord's Pantry and the new Stringtown Neighborhood Association we have more opportunities than ever in helping a poor neighborhood. In fact, I met the pastor of one of the Spanish-speaking COG7 congregations not too far from us and their young people may join us for Camp Outreach this summer. That may help us connect with a sizable part of the neighborhood in a much better way.

The Ministry House continues to progress. The plaster walls were all covered with sheet rock - now the big task is taping and mudding them in preparation for painting. What we have left is wall preparation, painting, putting in flooring (tile in the bathrooms and kitchen, laminate in the rest of the house), tiling one shower, kitchen cabinets, downstairs HVAC, the front porch, siding and landscaping. Sounds like a lot - and it is, but boy has there been a lot already done. It truly will be a great place for services, small group studies, education and helping a few neighborhood people at a time "reboot" their lives and get a fresh start.

Thanks to everyone who has been helping. If you'd like to get involved in our ministry or learn how to start an inner city ministry, join us for our "Camp Outreach." Some people can't get the whole week of July 11-17 off, so they are coming for a couple of days during the week or close to the weekend.

For years I was taught to focus on the intellectual side of our Christian faith. I can tell you that adding the practical, physical "loving your neighbor" aspect of a hands-on ministry has given new life to my beliefs, greater depth to my faith and excitement to my life. I'm not saying this as an advocate of being selfish here. Rather, I want to give credit to God for opening my eyes to see another side of His will. It never ceases to amaze me how much better my life and the lives of those around me are when I am more obedient to God.

If you are involved in a healthy ministry you already know what I mean. If you aren't, "dip your toe in the water" and see what God has in store for you. If we can help, give me a call or drop me a line.



Guy Swenson
Pastor, Common Ground Christian Ministries

Friday, April 9, 2010

India Mission Report

This Sabbath we will be hearing a message from Brian Smith who has just returned from a mission trip to India.

A number of years ago Brian made contact with several Christian groups in predominantly Hindu areas. It has been facinating to hear Brian tell the story how these Christian leaders have taken into their care widows who were abandoned by their families.

In parts of India there appears to be a very different perspective about widows. Rather than receiving support, when a woman becomes a widow she is ostracized by her family. These Christian leaders have reached out to those widows (who are also of the Untouchable class) and provided them with food, shelter and are trying to establish work opportunities.

Brian has created "Kardias Ministries" ( to broaden support for Christians in India. Kardias is led by Brian and his wife, Stephanie, as one of the ministries sponsored and supported by Common Ground Christian Ministries.

You are welcome to listen with us to Brian's report at our meeting this Sabbath at 2:30 PM in the multipurpose room at the MTC offices. 7545 Rockville Road, Indianapolis, IN 46214. Contact Guy Swenson at 317-313-1544 if you have any questions.



Guy Swenson

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Holy Days of Jesus

Years ago, when the apostles of Jesus were leading the church, they taught the disciples to stop their work and their labor on seven days of the year for special days of celebrating their relationship with God. These seven days are called "Holy Days" or "Annual Sabbaths." Together with the Passover, each of these days emphasize a special part of God's relationship with mankind and show, step by step, God's plan of salvation.

Passover begins at sundown tonight and starts this year's cycle of these very special "Holy Days." For the Christian, Passover has two deep meainings. First, it looks back to the time of God's deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt that culminated with the sacrifice of a lamb to shield each household from the death angel because of the lamb's blood on the sides and top of the door.

Second, with the sacrificial death of Jesus on this very day of Passover almost two thousand years ago, the life's blood of Jesus shed in His death shields those who have made a covenant with God from the "wages of sin" which is death and opens up eternal life as a gift from God through Jesus. (Romans 6:23) Each year we gather with other believers and follow the instructions Jesus gave to His disciples in John 13 to wash each other's feet and share broken unleavened bread and wine that remind us of the covenant we made with Jesus. (1Corinthians 11:23-33 and elsewhere.)

The Days of Unleavened Bread immediately follow the day of Passover. The seven days of Unleavened Bread begin with a Holy day and end with a Holy Day, or annual Sabbath observance. During these days we take all the leavening (like yeast and baking soda) and leavened food products out of our homes and avoid eating them.

Why do such an unusual thing for a week? First, because the Bible tells Christians to do so. The apostle Paul taught the Gentile and Jewish Christians in Corinth, Greece to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread. In his instructions to them he emphasizes the spiritual lessons that the observance of the Days of Unleavened Bread remind us of each year. 

Paul writes, "Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

Through our covenant with Jesus, His death and sacrifice on Passover so many years ago, He removes the penalty of death, atones for our sin and grants us righteousness through faith before God. In a real sense, the sacrifice of Jesus has "deleavened" us before God.

As our part of our covenant, we promise to repent of our sin which is rebellion before God and renounce sin. While the sacrifice of Jesus and God's grace covers all the sins we have or will commit, obedience to God is something we promise to Him. Putting leaven out of our homes and lives for seven days is also a physical reminder of the challenge we have taken upon ourselves to love God and our neighbors. Sinning against God, ourselves or our neighbors is not showing love, but rather selfishness, malice and wickedness.

As Christians, we are called to learn to do better and covenant, or promise to God, to work each day to put malice, wickedness and sin out of our lives. God knows how effective a physical reminder can be to teach those lessons and gives every Christian the opportunity to benefit by living for a week without leaven.

You are invited to join us in following what Jesus did, His disciples did and what the apostle Paul taught the New Testament church to do and put leaven out of your homes and avoid eating leavened food from Monday night, March 29 at sundown until sundown on Monday night, April 5th.

We will be meeting at our regular location on Tuesday afternoon for our Holy Day assembly and Sabbath services. The last Holy Day we will be combining with some of our friends in Cincinnati and celebrating these wonderful days of hope with them.


Guy Swenson
Common Ground Christian Ministries

Sunday, March 21, 2010

43 Kids - What a Great Way to Spend the Sabbath

Good weather and Goliath sure brought the kids out to our monthly "Kid's Camp" at Anna's House in Indianapolis this past Sabbath. We've never had so many kids come and so many adults helping out. I am amazed how the kids just "eat up" the chance to hear basic stories and Godly lessons from the Bible. 

The kid's crafts this time included painting styrofoam balls ("smooth stones"), a felt shepherd's pouch, a shield for their heart and trying to hit a Goliath picture with a little slingshot. (I know David didn't use a slingshot, but give me a break - can you imagine kids swinging a real shepherds sling in a closed room?)

We had several families bring their children for the first time. We're also starting to see kid's with disabilities come. It takes more staff to handle children with special needs, but boy do the kids enjoy their time together with others. For the past several months, Brian and Carrie O'Rourke have been driving 2 1/2 hours one-way to be with us. They and their four young adults have been a big help, as have Jeff and Julie Parker and their family and our local members.

We also were visited by the pastor and youth pastor from the Brownsburg/Chapel West Seventh Day Adventist congregations. Pastor Steve Manoukian is from Lebanon and he ran some children's ministries in Beirut. We have a number of common interests, including minstries and evangelism.

Finally, our Ministry House is coming along. We're redoing the porch. The old porch didn't have a good foundation and had bowed the wall of the house out. We're getting close to the final "buttoning up" of the inside, laying laminate flooring, putting in kitchen cabinets (to be donated from the Cabinet Barn in Shelbyville) and drywall taping/painting. We've also started raising funds for the siding. One of the neighbors has moved in to keep watch on the house - we appreciate people looking out for us in the neighborhood.

Enjoy the pictures from our Kid's Camp and the house updates.

Guy Swenson
Common Ground Christian Ministries

Ministry House - a New Front Porch In Progress - There Will Be a Gabled End Built

Sunday, March 14, 2010

English as a Second Language for the Neighborhood

Two weeks ago, Julie Malloy from the Lord's Pantry came upstairs and was crying. She wasn't mad or frustrated. She was hearing my wife Jennifer leading an ESL class and our Spanish speaking immigrant neighbors speaking English. It was a long time dream of hers that was happening.

Some months ago Julie had shared her desire with us to see English teaching offered to the immigrants in the neighborhood. Not knowing English was an obstacle to work, shopping and becoming a more integral part of the neighborhood. We had also seen the same need.

My wife, Jennifer has taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in West Virginia and in Brownsburg, Indiana. There are now two ESL classes being taught in the neighborhood - an afternoon class of about 15 that Jennifer leads and a second class of about 21 led by a Butler University professor and his students on Thursday evening.

Stephanie Smith, Jeff Parker and I help out in Jennifer's class. We've gotten to know some wonderful people from the neighborhood who really appreciate someone helping them develop better English language skills. I'm including some pictures from the ESL classes.

Next Sabbath is our monthly "Kid's Camp" with the neighborhood children. We're looking forward to seeing the kids - "David and Goliath" is on tap!

Finally, we've gotten the last of the bulk orders from congregations for the booklet "If God So Loved the World, Why Are So Many People Going to Hell?" We will be sending it to the printer and look forward to distributing it.

Guy Swenson,
Common Ground Christian Ministries.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Burglars Break Into Common Ground Ministry House, But Maybe God Has a Sense of Humor

I got a call Tuesday morning from Troy. The Common Ground ministry house our ministries are rehabbing was burglarized. The police had been called - I jumped into the van and drove downtown to see what had happened. Little did I know that this would turn into a funny morning.

It wasn't funny that the burglars had broken the kitchen window, crawled in and stole ladders, tools, some building supplies and did some vandalism. We lost $500-$600 worth of materials. I had been assembling the components for a burglar alarm - just didn't get it all together in time.

One of our neighbors had scared of some burglars from the house next door on Monday, so Troy took most of his tools out that evening. Saved us big time from having a much bigger loss.

The funny part was what happened to one of the burglars.

I went into the house, looked around and saw a bunch of insulation on the floor. Looking up, I saw this:

As part of the rehabbing we are leveling the floors upstairs. Part of the process is to pull the floor boards. We had put insulation between the joists - like this:


The burglars were going from room to room looking for things to steal - and stepped into this one, perhaps thinking there was a gray carpet. The first step was onto that piece of plywood, the second was to a floor joist - and then he slid off as one foot went to the right of the joist and the other went to the left of the joist.

One can only imagine the look on the burglar's face as he fell through the floor, only to be stopped by the floor joist between his legs. We think the third hole came as he was struggling to get out of his predicament.

We figure he got pretty mad and limped into the next room - and kicked what looked like a sheetrock wall. However, we had put sheetrock over a lath and plaster wall - a lot like kicking a concrete wall.

We aren't discouraged. There is a price to pay for anything that is worthwhile doing, including working in a poor neighborhood. We love the people, but there are some whose drug addictions and wickedness cause them to wreck havoc and prey on the poor. A few druggies can steal from so many people that they create a crime wave.

For those of you who are Christians, please pray for our success. We're buying new ladders and tools, fixing the damage and replacing the stolen building materials. So many of our new friends in the neighborhood have had things stolen from them - one of them joked with me saying "Welcome to the neighborhood!"

We're focusing on making something good out of this. The previous week we had our first meeting to begin a neighborhood association. During the meeting it was said that people in this neighborhood  haven't established an effective neighborhood crime watch because they feel the police treat those reporting crimes as potential criminals themselves. I hope a neighborhood association can come together so we can begin breaking down some of those walls and start "community" policing practices.

We now can speak as a neighbor who has also suffered from thieves.

It still strikes me as funny when a burglar falls through a floor - and ends up straddling a floor joist. I don't know if God had any direct part of it, but there is humor when somebody stealing from a ministry house ends up paying an immediate price for his wicked action.

Let's see what happens next...

Guy Swenson

PS: Services this week - same time, same place!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mission Indianapolis

I wish I could tell you all the neat things happening because of our mission to serve the poor, elderly, fatherless and widows in our own "back yard." I can't tell you everything because I want to respect the privacy of others.

But it is facinating to watch God's hand at work in people's lives. Spending time each week in the neighborhood has opened my eyes to see more need, more opportunity and more of how God is at work.

Our congregation is working in other ways too. This Sabbath we are hosting our monthly "Kids Camp" at Anna's House. We use this time to teach basic Bible stories to the kids and lessons that God wants us to learn. Last month it was Noah and obedience - this Sabbath it is faith and Joshua.

If you have wanted to become a better servant of God, consider how you can serve the poor. For us, we began by working with other groups that already had connections with the poor. From that beginning we have followed opportunities and looked for the leading of God's Holy Spirit.

You won't regret the time you spend and the things you will discover about God, your neighbors and yourself.

One more thing: This past weekend we helped the Cincinnati Church of God by hosting the President's Day Young Adults Retreat. The setting was the Jameson Camp, located just minutes from the Indianapolis Airport.

About 70 people spent a great weekend together with social time, great food, church services, learning and sharing opportunities and just plain fun. We appreciate Jim O'Brien and the Cincinnati Church of God for their leadership in creating opportunities like this.

Guy Swenson

Friday, February 5, 2010

Funny How Focusing On Ministry Works Out

Funny how focusing on ministry works out.

Common Ground is rehabbing an old home to be used as transitional housing and for church activities in a near-westide neighborhood in Indianapolis. On Thursday we got a helping hand from two companies. Pete Malloy from Jobsite Supply in Indianaapolis knew we've been doing a whole-house rehab on a shoe-string budget and contacted Tim Kenworthy from Fomo Products. Tim sent a team the 240 miles from Norton, OH to demonstrate the ability of their low-pressure foam system to seal a house from heat-robbing air infiltration for a weatherization class that was invited to observe.

It was a blessing to have the house sealed like this before we did the rest of the insulation. But things didn't work out the way I expected.

When I arrived at the house not all the prep work was done. Not a big problem - but my friend Troy, whose volunteer ministry helping the poor helped get us started in the neighborhood, wasn't focusing on getting it done.

Instead, a woman who was attending the weatherization class was talking to him and Troy was telling her about his throat cancer treatments, how his health crisis woke him up, he stopped being a drug dealer and what he was doing to help build up the neighborhood that he had been destroying. In my mind I was thinking "Troy, that is good but we've got to open up the floor downstairs so they can spray the foam on the joists and sill plates." I didn't say anything - I figured that we would lose a few minutes with Troy not focusing on the prep, but we would still get the final prep work downstairs finished while the upstairs was being sealed.

A few minutes later this woman came up to me and asked "Why did Troy tell me that story?" I mumbled something about, "Well, that is Troy." (I love Troy - he is completely upfront with people and under his crusty exterior he has a real gift of empathy.) Another few minutes and this lady dashes downstairs. Then Troy goes downstairs.

A few more minutes go by and the foam application demonstration upstairs is continuing. (They sealed the house up tight as a drum.) But I don't hear the sound of saws downstairs, so I go downstairs to see if there is a problem.

Troy is there with the woman and her husband. They've been crying together. Turns out the woman had had surgery in her neck for cancer.  Troy talking about his cancer and how he is dealing with it caught her totally off guard and gave voice to deep-seated concerns she had. She wasn't sure how much to give to God and what she should be doing. Then they shared with me how they were supporting a 29 bed drug addiction rehabilitation home in Richmond, IN as a ministry and valued greatly what we were doing. We're looking forward to getting to know them better.

Then Tim from Fomo Products came to review the project and we talked. He loves ministry work. He had gone to New Orleans after Katrina to work on homes. We compared notes about Katrina relief - Common Ground had organized a Katrina relief project in Pascagoula, MS to help. Tim was thrilled that this project was helping a ministry.

While we were talking, the man applying the foam (also named Tim) pulled off his mask and told us about his best friend who lives south of Indianapolis and owns an appliance repair business. He said he was going to call his friend and see about getting some appliances donated.

When I am in my "driver" mode I focus on getting things done. Looking at the series of events on Thursday morning, for those familiar with the story in Luke 10, call me "Mr. Martha." You see, Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping serve the crowd at the house where Jesus was teaching. Jesus helped Martha realize that there was a higher set of priorities - and listening to Jesus was a higher priority.

Now friends, don't call Troy "Mr. Mary." He won't understand and will probably let you know in colorful terms where you might be heading in the afterlife. (As in "Go to ____") But a little later, Troy told me that talking to this woman about her needs was more important than getting the insulation done.

You know, Troy was right about what was important. That morning, I think Troy was listening to Jesus. As it turned out, it wasn't and either/or situation. We could listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and get the house sealed.

What was remarkable to me was that "by accident" I made 4 new friends who are interested in helping the poor, those imprisoned with addictions and sharing blessings with others.

It wasn't "by accident." When I focus on ministry - works of service - God connects me with more people in a different way. A few years ago I didn't know how to engage in this kind of ministry. Being open to opportunities and saying "yes" to some of them has given God the means to teach me.

It's kind of funny how focusing on ministry works out.



On a "Martha" note, this week we are having Sabbath services at 2:30 PM at the MTC office. Next week we are helping the Cincinnati Church of God host the President's Day Young Adults Retreat here in Indianapolis. Our services will be combined with the retreat. Call Common Ground at 317-707-5026 if you have any questions or interest.

Guy Swenson

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kid's Camp, Our Next Sabbath and Did You See the Booklet?

What a great day! We had 28 neighborhood kids plus 24 helpers and their kids for a total of 52 at our Kids Camp on Sabbath. Noah was the topic this time - a "super" hero of the Bible. You'll see kids having a good time in the pictures below.

This children's ministry focuses on helping young children to learn the basics about the Bible and to introduce them to God and Jesus Christ. We tell stories about the key people and events while relating values and life lessons.

Many of these kids are like little sponges. For some, it is the only place they learn about what it means to be a Christian.

Church Services:
Sabbath, January 23rd, we will be meeting at our normal location, the MTC office at 7545 Rockville Road - at 2:30 PM.

Did you notice the booklet link on the front page? "If God So Loved the World ... Why Are So Many People Going to Hell? It challenges some traditions and shares the story of the real hope that comes from understanding clear Bible teachings about God's plan of salvation.

Several congregations are pitching in together to order a bunch to be printed on February 1st. Read the download and if your congregation is interested in getting bulk copies for discipling or evangelism, email me or Jim O'Brien ( before then. The donation needed is $2.00 per booklet - if we get a big order and the costs per booklet are lower, your congregation will get more more copies for the donation made.

Have a great week!


Guy Swenson

Pictures from Kid's Camp:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Local Kids - and Haiti

This is a good news/bad news message. The good news is that we have our monthly "Kid's Camp" for neighborhood kids at Ana's House this Sabbath. We're starting a "Super Hero's of the Bible" series. Noah is the first one. 25-39 kids come each time - it is a lot of fun. Jennifer and I helped serve dinner in "the neighborhood" this week. Both of us were encouraging the kids eating dinner to come. Most didn't need any encouragement. One little fellow kept giving me "high fives" - he was so excited about "Kid's Camp."

Now the bad news: Haiti. One family that helps us with Kid's Camp each month went to Haiti last year on a mission. One of the ladies on that mission (Karen Lydick) went back and is in Haiti now.

Let me copy a letter they passed on to us from the mission agency. It is touching and if you are looking for a place to send some financial help, this could be a good spot.
January 13, 2010

Dear Friends,

Gretchen sent us an update from Haiti early this morning:

Hi Everyone,

We did not get any sleep last night. We had a second quake that occurred about midnight and then tremors every 10 minutes all night long. Most of the women are afraid to sleep in the building so they brought mattresses and couches out and slept on the ground.

The grounds are packed with Haitian people and Pastor Rabrun came and got me about 1 a.m. because of a woman having a baby and I don't know anything about birthing babies so they sent for someone to help deliver her but then a man and woman came to me and said their little boy's arm was cut off in their home when the wall collapsed. He is 18 months old and all he had of a right arm was a stub above the elbow. I had to dress it and use duct tape for a pressure bandage as that is all we have and then I gave him some sleeping medicine I don't know how he is this morning. I hope he didn't die like the other one whose body is wrapped in a shroud and is laying in the hut! That precious little boy had his leg slit wide open and lost too much blood before he got here. The mother is here on the grounds somewhere.

We don't have supplies to treat all the people here...they are coming here in large numbers with broken limbs and severe wounds. The Grand Goave Hospital collapsed too.

If the U.N. or someone can drop us some supplies we can begin working in clinic but since we are not typically a critical or urgent care center we don't do much trauma work and have little supplies. So please see what you can do to get us some things.

We are going to try to get the school kitchen cleaned up and begin feeding the people of the community but many of our Haitian staff spent the night here last night due to damage of their homes and fear of them collapsing. Most of the school classrooms are gone! One truss has come down in the church. We have about 1 container full of KAH food here and 2 in customs. So we have to try to begin feeding people.

Peggy Wilson was able to walk out to the yard to sleep on a mattress because she didn't want to stay in the dining hall due to tremors. So she apparently is a bit better. But still needs care that we can't get for her since the roads are impassable.

A pipe broke in my bathroom here and it broke off right at the wall so we have no water in our mission house. And the water coming out of the pipes in the dorm is infiltrated and coming our brown so I don't know how long it will be before Bobby can track that down and get it fixed.

Erma, Christi, Karen Lydick and I slept in the 2004 red Ford cab last night because again, our house shakes really bad and many things broke in the quakes. We still have electric but as I said, no water right now.

We still don't have cell service so we can't do much to find out how the kids are at our orphanage and I can't contact Firmin to see if it's possible to send containers in and bypass the usual customs clearance process like we did in the fall of 2008. I'll let you know if we get news on this.

More later! And keep us in your prayers. (End of the letter)

Please continue to keep the Haitians, women's team, staff and situation in your prayers. Specifically, keep the Children's Home in your prayers. The Home, which cares for 90 children and adults, is located in Port au Prince and we have not been able to contact them.

We are continuing to assess the situation in Haiti and will keep you updated on how you can help. Please visit Lifeline's website - - for updates and pictures from Gretchen.

Thank you and God bless,

Bob DeVoe
Lifeline Christian Mission

Friday, January 8, 2010

Traveling Sabbath

This Sabbath will be a traveling week for our congregation. Jennifer and I will be visiting with congregations in Brownsburg and Cincinnati. No local services will be held on January 9th.

Next Sabbath, January 16th, we will be conducting our children's ministry "Kid's Camp" at the Lord's Pantry at Ana's House. From 2:30 - 5:00 PM we will be sharing a story on a Bible "hero," crafts and a snack. This is the first chance some of these kids get to hear about God, Jesus and the good news in the Bible.


Guy Swenson