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A New Journey – 20 Years in the Making – Part 1

nullnullAs many of you know by now this summer was a big milestone in my life as I marked my 20th year in ministry.  To celebrated that occasion I was able for the first time in my ministry career to take an entire month, actually five total weeks, away from my normal day to day ministry responsibilities.  During that time I was blessed with the opportunity to go to the United Kingdom and Uganda for studies, vacation/renewal and mission work. 

Even before heading overseas my journey started with the youth mission trip to Kansas City the week of June 23rd.  That was an amazing week of service with 20 youth and adults from Bethel. From Kansas City I went to New York and then Sunday morning, July 1st I arrived in London and met my classmate Mark at the airport to make the drive down to Bristol, where we were to start classes the next day.  This was to be my first of three summer of classes towards a Doctor of Ministry program that I have been accepted into.  The next two weeks I was at Trinity College in Bristol, England along with 15 classmates and two mentors who guided us, along with several guest presenters, through varies issues and topics related to "The Pastor as Caregiver."  In these two weeks I was introduced to many new ways of thinking about my approach to taking care of people as their pastor and friend.  Our class included students from several different countries and church backgrounds, so I really valued the collaborative learning from so many gifted and diverse brothers and sisters.  The evenings and weekend in between classes gave time to visit the sites of Bristol and catch watching some of the England World Cup matches, which were so exciting.

After the two weeks of class I was able to do about 11 days of sight-seeing across England, Scotland and Wales.  Loving British history as I do, I was amazed by the opportunity to experience so much history and culture in such a few days and yet I was even more amazed by how much I didn't see.  I guess the old saying that you can't do it all is so true. The last two days in the UK were spent in Cambridge where the Lutheran Church in England is based along with Westfield House a Seminary that they run to train pastors in England and across the world

I was in the UK for about 25 days and I would say that the experience that had the greatest impact on me was the 30 hours I spent at Launde Abbey, an old monastery founded in the 12th Century that now serves as an Anglican Retreat Center.  I have recently joined a group of pastors in Texas that gather for spiritual renewal retreats and they challenged me to practice solitude, which does not come natural.  Anyway, the Abbey was in the middle of these rolling hills of farms and sheep grazing.  There I worshiped in an 800 year old chapel, prayed in its accompanying basement prayer room, walked through some amazing scenic pathways all while quietly growing closer to my Savior Jesus.  It was unlike anything I have experienced before, I even started to appreciate, even enjoy the solitude! 

I thank all the people at Bethel for their support to be gone for this extended time.  Bethel has even started a fund through which people can support my Doctor of Ministry studies and I am very grateful for those who have already done so. Please contact me directly if you would like more information and I look forward to sharing part 2 of my journey in Uganda in a couple of weeks.

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Portals of Prayer

nullI am passionate about good reading material. I’m mostly interested in topics related to lives and families being changed by the Gospel of Jesus. Since I first read Portals of Prayer, I was really interested in not only reading them but promoting them to the Hispanic community in which God has called me to serve at this time, Holy Cross and Bethel Lutheran Churches in Dallas. I have heard quite a few stories of people who have been helped by reading these small passages of Scripture and the commentaries that the writers include. 

When the director of Portals of Prayer wrote to me and asked if I was interested in writing for the publication in Spanish, I felt both very honored and excited to do so. However, when I received all their requirements in order to publish what I would write, I was actually a little hesitant to accept the invitation. I’m not someone who says a lot with a few words, and the requirement was to be short and to the point. To do it would require many hours of preparation. However, I was in prayer one day and told God that I wanted to do it, but that I just didn’t know how. I told him I needed his help 100%, not only to write it in the time they needed, but that the director would like it and decide to publish what I had written.

I ended up taking the challenge, and over many days it blessed me more than I imagined. God gave me the stories and the words to say, and when I sent them, the director told me that he really liked what I was writing. He did a little editing, and then I was finally finished with what I was supposed to write.

The director recently told me that he wanted me to keep writing for the publication for next year. With joy I am accepting the offer and am prepared to make sacrifices in order that this Message reach many people around the world.

For with God nothing is impossible for us that we do in the name of the Lord. I ask for your prayer for these publications to bear fruit and that thousands of people would be blessed by them. To God be the glory, forever and ever, amen!

Rev. Beto Alzate

A New Hope

An Intern’s Journey through Summer 

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Hello, my name is Briana Granstaff. Until recently I was once just another part of the youth group, one among the masses who had been active with at Bethel since my sophomore year of high school. At an early age, a value insti0lled in me was the importance of church and so, any youth event we had, I always made it a point to show up and roll up my sleeves whenever work needed to be done. It’s because of my constancy in the church and enjoying more leadership roles, that when asked if I was interest in joining the Bethel staff as the summer youth intern, I was more than a little excited. I was already so involved with the youth and community outreach events that it seemed like a sure sign from God.

My first week began on May 16th which fortunately was on staff meeting day, so I was able to meet everyone in the office and become orientated with the way things run. The next day, I was making flyers for youth night that following Sunday, organizing a Sunday school lesson plan for Spanish church, and I even had the pleasure of meeting the highland meadows staff. Later in the evening, I accompanied Pastor Beto to soccer camps at Highland where I learned I would not only be assisting but rather, I would be coaching kids! And anyone who knows me, I am NOT athletic in the least and I am the least bit qualified to teach kids how to play a sport; I prevailed and managed to teach the little girls a thing or two. With more ESL outreach programs, such as family nights and more camps, I’m hoping that my connection with the girls as soccer will help build a bridge for them to participate in our church. It helps communicating with the kids when I’ve already met most of them through ESL classes which I was able to take part in this school year.

The weekend flew by fast and finally, it was Sunday. I woke up at 7:15, got dressed and loaded up everything I needed for church in the car and I was out of there. To sum up my day, graduating senior breakfast, all day stake out at the church for nachos and a terrifying battle of water balloons and other weapons by the youth. It was so great to see such a large turnout for the water wars youth night, from both youth kids and their younger siblings. Even though they are still too young to join on trips, it’s never too early to join in the youth fun. Especially if they fun involves ambushing Pastor Chris with a thousand water balloons

Although this is technically a job, I absolutely enjoy working as the intern and I’ve had nothing but the best experiences doing my work. I’ve been doing what I love and loving what I do which I never thought I could get out of a job. I look forward to more crazy nights filled with every weirdo from the youth and helping them along their journey in faith as well as growing in mine; because without their curiosity and passion, there wouldn’t be a youth group. After all, this is only my first week serving as a servant to God, I still have an entire summer of community bonding, inside the youth and outside the church.

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