Community

Home Sweet Home

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I trust in the Lord that listens to his children and has an infinite and definitive plan. He has a reason to challenge and cultivate my family in the very place he has called us to be planted, be it permanent or temporary. God has us placed right here for a purpose. Not just in Dayton, or at Apex, but in the very neighborhood and home where he has moved us.

In a military family, being the newcomers to a neighborhood is a common reality, and one I fear I may never get used to.  Dave and I knew we would move to Dayton, Ohio after he completed his PhD. He was assigned to teach at the Air Force Institute of Technology in his field of study. I had never been to Ohio, but before we met, Dave had lived in Dayton while completing his master’s degree at AFIT. In the last nine years I’ve heard many stories of his time spent at Apex, his house church, his accountability partners, and his experiences there that solidified his testimony of salvation.

In early summer 2014 we visited Dayton to find a house. Our two young children, daughter Cameron and son Jack outlined very specific instructions for our house hunting. They wanted indoor plumbing, a black refrigerator, and a freezer filled with ice cream- vanilla and strawberry to be exact.  

As an introvert, I am attracted to homes that offer a hint of privacy and isolation. In Texas our home backed up to a city park; in Japan we were surrounded by rice fields, and in Colorado we were buffeted by forested green space. In turn I let my mental and creative energy develop as my closest companions.

And then we went house hunting in Beavercreek. Clearly isolation would not be an option, neither would a six foot privacy fence in the backyard.

Dave, on the other hand, saw nothing but possibilities in the suburban lifestyle we were destined to embrace. My children were eager to see their new home with open, grass-covered lawns and other families nearby with kids of all ages. My quiet isolation traded for merging property lines and (imagined) neighbors and kids knocking on my back door to come out and play. My windows would face the windows of others, exposed to external view and (perceived) judgment.

We spent a considerable amount of time preparing for the move in prayer. May God increase my dependence on him.  May I embrace the opportunities of frequent and impromptu hospitality. We prayed for our unknown neighbors, our nameless friends, and our future home at Apex.  I prayed for quality friends and playmates for my kids. Through God’s grace during that time I felt my heart begin to soften.

At home, my two-year-old son took it upon himself to leave our back porch to walk across the back yard into the adjoining yard and introduce himself to the family as they prepared their backyard supper.  I had to follow him, what else could I do?  The family welcomed us and invited my kids to stay and play for a while. I left with a local events magazine and a page full of notes for family activities and festivals in the area, as well as, an open invitation for the kids to play.

I gave my phone number to the neighbors on one side of us that have a young baby. Both parents work full time so they employ sitters during the week. After a few days of unpacking boxes my phone rang with a panicked call from the mom at work. She was forced to call in ‘the back up to the back up’ sitter to watch her baby for the day and through her hidden camera at home she could see the baby was terribly unhappy. She asked if I would walk over under the guise of picking up some garden vegetables to investigate the situation. I jumped up and ran to her front door, overwhelmed with gratitude that this new acquaintance trusted me enough to request my help with the care of her child.

The neighbors to the other side had been elusive. I met the husband and wife for a brief moment on moving day, but I hadn’t seen them again during our first week. One afternoon my GPS directed me to the local post office and I followed the crowd of people to the back of the interminable line. The woman standing in front of me was in military uniform and I thought I recognized her. She caught me looking and turned to face me. It was my elusive neighbor. “I’ve never been to this post office in all my years of living here,” she said to me, “but I thought I would try it today.” Oh how the incredible mystery of God’s bigger picture continues to surprise me! I voiced silent thanks that the line wasn’t any shorter.

I don’t believe in a God of coincidence. I trust in the Lord that listens to his children and has an infinite and definitive plan. He has a reason to challenge and cultivate my family in the very place he has called us to be planted, be it permanent or temporary. God has us placed right here for a purpose. Not just in Dayton, or at Apex, but in the very neighborhood and home where he has moved us. I hope and pray that in the days and years to come here in Ohio that my heart will remain soft. Maybe these neighbors are the newest members of a house church in our living room someday. God only knows. For now I ask simply ask that I may become the neighbor, trusted friend, and writer that God has called me to be- with an adequate supply of vanilla and strawberry ice cream available in the freezer, of course.

 

Author: Carrie Kempisty

Going Deeper

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Going deeper began to be about living within the understanding that this was something quite bigger than meeting a need and being done; it was a call to treat and love each person as a family member.

Glen Shelley and his house church are making moves in the city of Dayton. They are living missional lives right here, right now.

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

What began as packing and delivering backpacks to the homeless downtown before Christmas has turned into a regular, heart-invested, intentional pursuit of the people of Dayton.

“After our first time doing the backpacks we met a man named Darrel and a few others and we decided to ask them to visit our house church,” explains Glen.

Taking time to get to know these people led to having meals with them and ultimately culminated in a separate house church on Monday evenings simply to love them well.

Glen sat with Devin and Eric, two of Glen’s house church brothers, around a table at Panera Bread, sharing their story with me, and the passion became contagious.

“It has been a catalyst for going deeper in relationships with them,” says Glen. “We met a gentleman named Darrel; he needed food, but it was clear that he needed companionship just as much.”

They came to find out that Darrel was sleeping under a bridge. It was in the collection of these pieces of their lives that Glen and his house church knew they needed to, and desired to, be much more than simply people who dipped in and out of their lives.

“They are not projects. Each person we meet and take time to know has expectations – they can be hurt, they can be disappointed; they are real humans and they need real human love,” says Glen.

Their house church was faced with a serious question head on – what does it mean to go deeper?

Going deeper began to be about living within the understanding that this was something quite bigger than meeting a need and being done; it was a call to treat and love each person as a family member.  

Since this outreach began and this house church has been formed, they have found themselves being asked to think outside of themselves.

“I got a call at 9 PM from someone that needed a ride home, but he was in Indianapolis. It had to stop being about my comfort level being disrupted and more about showing someone I cared,” says Glen.

So they piled into the car and drove to Indianapolis and brought him home. If there is one thing they’ve learned through this act of obedience, it’s that the viewpoint should never be “us versus them,” but always all of US.

Glen and his house church have seen more than anything that everyone has a story; “these people didn’t wake up one day and choose to be homeless. They are not ‘less’ by any means – there are circumstances and fragments of a storyline being written that lead people to their current situation.”

“We don’t want to pound anything into them; we just want to love and care for them. We just tell them, ‘we just wanna love you,’” says Devin.

It started with backpacks. It became fellowship and shared meals; relationships are being built and poured into and now, they are able to see integration to larger fellowship. Members of the house church are starting to come to Apex and pursue baptism, as well.

“When we are not with them on Mondays, there is constant communication,” explains Glen. “They need to be picked up, they might need money for bus tokens, sometimes they simply need someone to talk to, to listen, to hear them.”

As a final thought all three men have come to, and rest, at this powerful point – they’re real people and they have real needs.

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? –Isaiah 58:7

 

 

Author: Steph Duff

Photographer: Hilary Tebo

Fostering Kingdom Work

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The Xenia gathering has cultivated a wonderful Kingdom Perspective within the community; they want to use every opportunity to step out in faith and use what they have to foster Kingdom work.

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When I asked Jay Jackson to talk to me about the Xenia Gathering he quickly laughed and said, “that’s a broad question.” I was attempting to think of a way to narrow it down when he looked at me and dove in to his answer.

“I think the most exciting thing about the Xenia gathering are the people opportunities that are created by having a presence in the community.”

Once a month Jay has the opportunity to meet with city officials in Xenia; at their most recent meeting the city manager opened up about where he was at in this particular season.

“It afforded us the opportunity to rally around him, pray for him, and encourage him,” says Jay. He continues on saying that these moments, these openings in building relationships allow the time and space to ask, ‘how can we love on our city and the people within it?’

He has also had the chance to see others within the Xenia campus being called to step forward and lead within the community.

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

One of the house churches within Xenia was going to dissolve, but a young, single man, Kyle Fox, felt led to step forward and go through Shepard training.

“He began to feel burdened to lead an outreach for the house church,” explains Jay.

He felt called to One Bistro, in Miamisburg, and began casting a vision to have a second location. Together with his house church, they were able to raise money to begin looking for a facility to give One Bistro a second home in Xenia.

“It’s an incredible thing to see people step out in faith and obedience to bring the community closer together.”

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

Jay has also been able to really get to know people’s stories and their hearts for ministry through the Xenia gathering. Shortly after the Move Conference Jay and his wife were driving back to Xenia to help clean up after the gathering and stopped at a gas station on the way.

“I saw a woman who was incredibly distraught sitting on the curb with her young son. My wife was able to talk to her and hear her story.”

She was owed money, homeless and living in a shelter nearby; she needed to find alternate housing within two weeks. They drove her back to the shelter that night and returned a few days later.

“She was waiting for a voucher for housing before she could leave the shelter so we helped pay for her and her son to stay in a hotel room until permanent housing was available.”

It was then that Jay sent out emails to the network of house churches and became overwhelmed by the response.

“I shared a need within our community and our house churches stepped up and willingly met the needs of this woman and her son.”

Since then, Amanda has been attending the gathering and the house churches that rallied around her are continually praying that the Lord would continue to create opportunities to share with her and love on her.

“Having the gathering in Xenia brings attention to these situations and allows opportunities to build relationships and breathe into people’s lives,” says Jay.

Another large way that the Xenia campus is connecting with their community is through the large percentage of Cedarville students attending both the gathering and various house churches. Jay and his house church really like to focus on feeding into the Cedarville students a part of his house church.

“The dedication on the students to attend house church regularly and dig into community has been phenomenal,” Jay says. “We have seen some of these kids come in as freshman and we are still fostering relationships that are strong and Gospel-centered years later.”

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

The Xenia gathering has cultivated a wonderful Kingdom Perspective within the community; they want to use every opportunity to step out in faith and use what they have to foster Kingdom work. In taking that stance they have found that, because they were faithful and God bestows His blessings, the church has grown.

 

 

Author: Steph Duff

Photographer: Sarah Maigur

 

 

 

 

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