Monday, December 19, 2011

Angel Tree Shares the Love of Christ
December 19, 2011

Part of Covenant’s vision is to IMPACT God’s kingdom.  Here is how a few Covenant Groups were able to impact families in need this Christmas.  Michelle Culley coordinated the Angel Tree program, which is a ministry that gives gifts to children with a parent in prison.  In the past, CPC has taken the traditional approach where members individually deliver gifts to homes.  This year, Michelle decided to try a different approach; her ladies’ discipleship group invited recipient families to the church for a Christmas party and meal as well as fun activities and a family photo opportunity.  This allowed the families to see our church and get a taste of the ministries we offer, and by holding the party following our church service, it encouraged the families to try out CPC. The party option opened up multiple opportunities for several small groups to join together for a unified “kingdom task,” said Michelle.  Thirteen families attended with thirty children.

Jonathan Culley’s men's discipleship group volunteered to set up tables, chairs, and other prep.  Michelle's group organized all the food and mingled among the guests during lunch.  As the families were coming in to the Fellowship Hall, they were greeted by a family photo booth set up in the foyer for family pictures in front of the Christmas tree.  Once everybody got settled in, Jonathan opened with a welcome and prayer. Pizza was served to the kids and pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches to the adults.  As everybody was eating and socializing, other CPC volunteers joined in by mingling with the guests.  Rachel Van Buren served as the emcee for the event. Following dinner, kids participated in various activities:  decorating sugar cookies with Christmas-colored sprinkles, bean-bag toss for prizes, etc.   Leftover food was put into containers for the guests to take home.  As they left, they came up to the gift table to receive their children's Christmas gifts. These families seemed genuinely appreciative.  One of the mothers in attendance later sent this e-mail:

"Hi, just wanted to say thank you again.  
My daughter was very excited about her gift and with it saying ‘from Daddy’ was the best.  She was telling the family that ‘daddy knew just what I wanted.’  Also, for myself, that shredded chicken was very good.  Happy Holidays to all."

For the remaining thirteen, volunteers delivered the remaining gifts to their homes.  “It’s a good way to put hands and feet to the Gospel,” Michelle explained.  “Since these children are growing up with a parent in prison, this ministry also acts as the “hands and feet” of the incarcerated parent by giving gifts to the children on their behalf.  It seeks to reconcile families through the power of gifts and by pointing them to the true gift, Jesus Christ.”  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Change the World by Loving International Students
December 13, 2011

Did you know that over 100 countries are represented in the student body at Florida Tech, and that international students comprise over 20% of the student population? Many of them have been sent here on a student visa by their home country to study and then go back home with their newly-acquired education. What an opportunity to serve and love our international neighbors!

A group of people in our church comprise our International Student Ministry (ISM) Team, who have a big heart and a big burden to help and love these students. On a regular basis, they conduct "game nights" or "holiday meals" where they invite as many international students as they can to come and have fun, mingle, and build relationships with us Americans.

Game Night

The most recent game night was on Friday, October 28, in one of the Activity Rooms on the Florida Tech campus. Linda Condon, Daniel Hedman, Palmer Cash, and Tom Mlsek pulled this together, and they had at least 38 international students show up! They had a great time mingling with students from Saudi Arabia, India, Africa, the Caribbean Islands, and several other countries.

Tom led a rousing game of Pictionary with several Saudi students, and they had many laughs. Linda mused, "What was so funny was when I suggested a word to my team, many of them input the word into their smartphones to get the Arabic translation to find out the meaning of the word. Several of them told me it was helpful for them in learning English."

Thanksgiving Dinner

Another way we have been serving and loving these international students is by hosting holiday meals. This past year, the ISM Team has hosted an Easter meal and a Thanksgiving meal at Daniel's house. Both were a huge success!
At the Thanksgiving meal on November 24, over 30 international students came, hung out, had a huge feast, and built relationships. While dinner was still cooking, Tom started a game of (American) football out in the street. What a cultural experience for them!

When it was time to come in and eat, Daniel spent a little time explaining the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and talked about the plight of the Pilgrims when they came here, but also how they thanked God for the provisions He gave to sustain them. After the prayer, they all chowed down on turkey and all the fixings.

After the meal, everyone played a huge game of Crazy Uno (not your ordinary Uno, but Uno with a few "extra" rules thrown in, like whenever someone puts down a "9" everyone has to slap their hand on the center pile, and whoever is last has to draw a card).

A little later, Daniel met a few guys from Africa and a guy from India who had an interest in music. So they all shared songs they liked from YouTube and played around with the guitar. It was a fun day to connect with these students and build relationships.

If you are interested in getting involved with the International Student Ministry, contact Linda Condon at, or Pastor Jonathan Culley at