Newberg FISH (Friends in Service to Humanity)

Luke 10:33-34 “But as a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.”   
It has been my pleasure to be involved with Newberg FISH Emergency Services for the last nine years. The acronym FISH stands for Friends In Service to Humanity, which is perfect description of spirit  and mission of the all-volunteer organization.  FISH provides several services for community members in need and partners with other Newberg service organizations like LoveINC and the Newberg Police 
department. The volunteer leadership at FISH has always sought ways to reinforce the idea that every person who needs a hand should be seen as an important member of the Newberg community and should be treated as an equal.  
The idea of ‘seeing people’ has been on my mindI recently read that in the four Gospels Jesus is described as ‘seeing’ a person, or ‘seeing’ a crowd forty times. It is not always easy to see people. It is even possible to serve people and not see them. They can become ‘the poor’ nameless needy we serve to feel better. The folks we serve, whether we are pastor or volunteer at FISH, know the difference between being seen as problem or case number and being seen as an individual. The opportunity to slow down and see the people we serve is the reasoning behind FISH’s transition to a choice style pantry.  
It is also the motivation behind traditional parish ministry. Parish ministry is a community of faith shepherded by a pastor who lives in the town. Growth in community is marked by community transformation, not just of the church members, but the impact on the town in which we live.  Like FISH, churches have to evaluate methods to see if they are supporting our goals. Since, we want to see people the way Jesus sees them in the Gospels, we will want to put ourselves in places where we can see people not just serve them.   In “Loved Walk Among Us: Learning to love like Jesus”Paul Miller talks about what happens when we start to see people like Jesus did we start to love like Jesus Miller says, “Loving means losing control of our schedule, our money, and our time. When we love we cease to be the master and become a servant.” 
The choice style pantry is one way that FISH is helping to create an environment where individuals and families come in for help and walk out knowing they were seen.  The willingness of FISH to continue to evolve in its pursuit of its mission is an encouragement to all of us who serve in ministries that seek to embrace and embody the life of Christ.  


Open Thoughts for October 2016


There is little doubt that the Good News of the Gospel is going forward and that lives are being set free and renewed in Christ every day. It is a great joy to hear those stories and this week I heard two from Brian Frey, the campus minister at Boise State. Brian and his wife Gail and their two little kids Maggie and Owen moved to Boise in 2011 to start a chapter of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) on the Campus of Boise State University. There are two unique characteristics of RUF chapters. First, an ordained pastor leads them; Brian had the same seminary training and passed the same ordination examinations as every ordained pastor in the PCA. This level of training is critical given the complicated theological questions and the confusing, difficult and painful lives so many students are wrestling with. The second important difference is that RUF’s only exist on campuses in communities in which there is a PCA church willing to support and engage with the ministry. The ministry at Boise State is strongly supported by All Soul’s Presbyterian Church. In fact, the church covers a third of the cost of ministry not to mention the hospitality and other support so generously given to the staff and students. RUF then is not a para-church ministry but a ministry of the church to the campus.

I was talking to Brian the other day getting an update on the ministry this fall. It has been an encouraging first half of the semester with over 200 freshmen and transfers participating in the semesters kick off party. One of the guys who came was a sophomore transfer from Utah named Marcus. Marcus’ new roommates are also sophomores and a part of the RUF ministry. They invited Marcus, and he showed up and had a good time. Brian met him for the first time a couple of days later at the first weekly large group meeting, a weekly time of worship and teaching. Marcus had no real church background; he thinks his grandparents were Methodist, but he told Brian he had no idea what the Bible actually teaches about God’s love. He was so excited. He has plugged into one of the small group Bible studies and is large group every week. Marcus meets with Brian regularly and is clearly hungry for the gospel. He has not made a profession of faith yet, and Brian asks that we would be praying for Marcus and his roommates who are excited but also experiencing relational evangelism for the first time.

Brian also told me about Maureen, she is a returning upperclassman. Two years ago she started coming to RUF and began to meet with Brian. Maureen was also experiencing the Good News of the gospel for the first time. She was struggling with identity issues, love, and acceptance. The sweet truths of God’s love drew her in, and she made a profession of faith, was baptized, and became a member of All Soul’s. She soon left for a year of study abroad. Sadly, she did not plug into a church while she studied in Canada and when Maureen returned to Boise State she did not jump right back into RUF.  She did, however, start faithfully attending All Soul’s. Brian says that she is now meeting with him, and the relationship is solid, but she may not engage with RUF as fully as she did in the past. She has had some challenges to her faith while she was away and has changed and matured in other ways. But thanks to RUF’s relationship with All Soul’s, she knew she had a church home even if she felt she was perhaps less a part of the campus life of Boise State. She had been taught the difference between being a part of RUF and being a member of the local church.

These are the kinds of stories I need to hear. It encourages my heart to hear about young people being discipled, coming to faith, being baptized, and enfolded into the local church. It is such blessing to be able to partner with, celebrate, and share the weight with Brian and Maggie as well as campus staff Alex Bosgraft and campus intern Matt Arends.