How do you handle your hurt?

Morning Meditations

Yesterday, I was given a special gift from Marlene Burling – a copy of her newly published book: Morning Meditations. What began as a personal exercise to process her grief upon the death of our friend, Autry, and her husband of 51 years took on a life of it’s own and resulted in this wonderful collection of devotional thoughts. Marlene has a gift to keep things simple yet substantive. She has a cultivated eye that captures common and relatable daily occurrences, and points the reader to the eternity contained in those moments.
Marlene is a gift to our church family and I’ll take 10 of her on my team any day! She exudes a special sweetness of life that only Jesus produces when one surrenders their deepest hurts to His sovereign Lordship. You will do well to glean from her reflections and even get a jump on a great gift idea because, Christmas is coming!   See Marlene if you’d like to purchase some copies and she’ll be glad to help you out!

Signed, Sealed and Delivered!

240 Vine Street

Signed, Sealed and Delivered!

This morning I received this text from Don Childs: “The closing is done. The property is ours.” Those eight words marked the end of a long standing prayer of our ministry. Prayer and patience resulted in the privilege of seeing God unmistakably provide us with this property! While we are very grateful to our trustees who facilitated this transaction, GOD, in His sovereign timing, made this happen. We give Him all the glory!
The acquisition of 240 Vine Street was not simply a long standing prayer of our church, but a long standing vision – to see more individuals come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ here in Batavia. We need this property because God continues to be active in transforming lives, one life at a time. Space is needed for parking, not because we are all about gravel and blacktop, but because we are about hearts and souls.
While we give God all the glory for this, we also give a special thank you to one of our trustees, Don Childs, for dedicating the needed time to facilitate the details of the closing. We also wish to say thank-you to you – our church family for your sacrificial commitment that enabled us to purchase the property. So, while today marks the conclusion of one vision, it is the beginning of another: to in the near future see it filled with cars that bring people who need Christ and become His fully devoted followers!

Easy as 1,2,3!

“Easy” is my option of choice. I mean, who wants things “hard?” Since June, we have watched the Kosiorek’s begin their ministry adventure in Togo, minus an “easy“ button. From serious physical challenges to housing issues and A-Z cultural adjustments, it’s been hard. Yet, what we don’t hear from them is complaint. What we see is a family prepared and engaged in the bigger task of investing their lives for Christ. All of them.
What has also been hard is finding suitable housing. “This isn’t Kansas anymore, Toto” is true of Togo more than any of us living this side of the Atlantic get. However, God has been good to them in enabling them to acquire a home that will meet their needs to both live and minister. BUT, before that happens it needs some serious renovation. Bottom line? They need $6,000 in order to make it happen. Their recent report detailing the project is posted below.
What is “easy” about this project is how you can financially give to it! In fact, of the three ways they share how you can give, I called the 800 number for Donor Services at ABWE and in minutes made a  contribution to help see this need met. It was easy as 1,2,3!
Let’s continue to be a blessing to the Kosiorek’s as they face daily hardships. Let’s make this current need of $6,000 for the renovation a reality they never dreamed could be met so easily! Please prayerfully consider how you might be able to take one of the three means they list in their recent report below to give to this worthy project. It’s easy!
Thank you for your tangible expression of the love of Christ.
Please click on the link below to see how you can give.

How Do You Explain This Kind of Transformation?

Sunday represented what we are all about at Grace – changed lives!  Eight people were baptized and give their testimonies in the link below.  Each one was personal and powerful.  Each one was unique.  God is moving in hearts and lives, moving them toward Himself.  The only explanation behind this kind of transformation is God intervening in a life.  More amazing still is that when you know Christ as your Savior, you can be a part of that!  God never intended your salvation to end with you!  Amazing how several of these stories begin with a just a simple invitation…

Reality Check

Through the years, many have heard me say: “I’m not as interested in how pretty a swan dive people can make into the ocean of Christian experience, I’m interested in how long they will swim.” Below is an update from Brenda Kosiorek that gives candid commentary on what it looks for them “to swim” since arriving in Togo. This is their reality check and new normal.
It behooves us as their church family to be all the more diligent to pray for them every day. It also serves for us to have our own reality check in how well we are not simply counting the cost to be a committed disciple for Christ, but whether or not we are paying the price.
Pastor Shirk
Brenda writes:

“It has been a difficult start for the Kosiorek family.  Our arrival in Lome was quite smooth, which is rare for Africa.  We stayed in Lome 3 nights.  Lome is never fun; it is a large city.  Our air conditioner didn’t work and being tropical it is very, very buggy.  I started feeling sick Friday, on the way up to Mango.  I was hospitalized Sunday and told that I would go into emergency surgery to have my appendix removed.  However, God provided a GI surgeon who was volunteering here for 2 weeks.  He examined me and said that my colon was very swollen, along with my lymphoid (which is attached to my appendix).  The lymphoid was so swollen that the top of the appendix was also swollen and that the appendix was not the issue.  I ended up testing positive with 2 different parasites and Malaria.  The medication was not working and I had internal bleeding.  I was again prepared for surgery, but this time, to remove parts of my colon.  But God is good and just hours before going into surgery, I took a turn for the better.  After being in the hospital for 5 days, I was finally allowed to go home but with a strict diet while my organs recover.

The day I came home, Daniel started feeling sick.  At first they thought he might have Malaria and they started to treat him for it.  However, he continued to get worse and they now feel he has Typhoid Fever. He is very sick, but the medication is starting to help.

We have been without water which is rare during raining season.  We are praying that it comes on soon.  It is hard to get things done when it is so hot and knowing that we can’t shower, wash clothes, or use dishes.  We have to be careful not to use up too much water.  We have no idea how long it will be out.  It could be days.  We do loose electricity often but thankfully we have good flash lights.  The house we are staying in does not have back-up generators.

The internet company here is going bankrupt so they shut the internet off and on to save money.  We have had little or no reception.  We were told that another bigger company will be coming, but that it will be very expensive.  We are praying for good internet so that the boys will be able to do school on-line.

We had our first look at houses today.  We have our work set out for us.  They will need a lot of work and a lot of cleaning.  We are thankful that we do have some options and we are praying that God would give us wisdom as we choose where to live.  It will takes months of work to get it ready and money for labor and supplies.  We would like to make a decision quickly.   The man who has been doing maintenance leaves for furlough for 10 months in Aug.   This was a real blow to us.  Most families get 2 to 3 months to get work done settling in.  Eric went to work last Monday to get orientated.  We are praying that God would allow us time enough to get settled in.

The car was also a disappointment.  It has a broken window, electrical problems, the tire (at one point was broken off) is wobbly, the back door doesn’t open, and the whole things smells of pee.  Thankfully we were able to order 3 motorcycles.  We have a church who is raising money for them, in their VBS class.  However, ABWE just informed us that we can only use the money to purchase 2 bikes.  One for Eric and one for me.  We explained that the car could be used for hauling stuff short distances, but can’t be trusted.  They said we could purchase an ATV or something else but because the boys were not employees; we can’t use the money to buy a third bike.   At this point we only have enough money for bikes.  However, thanks to our AWESOME church family we have enough food, so that we can use our income to help pay for the 3rd bike.

We can’t even begin to tell you how the food is helping.  We would have had to buy floor and be sifting through it ourselves.  We have been living off the cans of food you sent while we recover from being sick.  I am still trying to get down how to wash dishes, my counter tops, and hands without leaving one drop of water for an amoeba.  We have to run our bread through fire to be sure flies didn’t leave eggs on it while cooling.  I can’t believe all the things to remember to be sure we stay healthy.  Eric is a good planner and once we have our own place, we will have backup generators and enough water stored that if we lose water for 3 or 4 days we will have enough to keep hydrated.  This house is set up for 2 people.  The water storage and space is not enough for a family of 5.  We are praying we won’t be here long.

We decided that things can only get better.  Once we get into our own place, have a system set up, and adjust to heat- we will be GREAT!!!! The people here are wonderful and have helped to make the hard conditions bearable.  We are still unable to decipher their thick African accents as they speak French, but we were told that in 6 to 8 weeks it will sound normal to us.

Keep praying! We miss you all so much!!!”

Brenda and boys

Eric and Brenda Kosiorek

On Mission For Missions

Kosioreks Commissioning - pulpit

An excellent book called Look and Live by Matt Papa states, “Missions is this: We enjoy God and therefore we share God. To be “on mission” is leveraging your time, talents, and resources for the joy of others and the advancement of the gospel, wherever you are.” He goes on to say, “Missions is this: crossing a culture to reach a people who have little or no access to the gospel, with the proclamation of truth and the planting of churches as paramount.”
We as a church family are greatly blessed to partner with a family who have modeled what it looks like to be “on mission” which ultimately led them to “missions.” This next week it is both our privilege and important duty to be “on mission” on their behalf. Specifically, now and next week, more than ever here is what being “on mission” is to look like for us: PRAYER.
This Monday, June 29, Eric, Brenda, Caleb, Daniel and Michael Kosiorek leave France for Africa. They arrive in Lome’ Tuesday and then travel to Mango on Wednesday. Pray that their luggage arrives with them! Pray for God’s grace in the details of this journey. Pray that their spirits will be strong in light of the physical and emotional drain of the past months in getting to this point. Pray that they would be protected from evil people. Pray that Brenda’s eye will continue to experience the grace of God’s healing. Pray for the paperwork details of getting their visas in Lome’. Pray for a good time of adjustment as they get settled in to their temporary housing for the next four months. Pray that they will be able to locate permanent housing in the near future. Pray that they will grow closer as a family and that Eric and Brenda’s marriage will flourish.  Pray for the boys as they adapt to this new adventure and that their walk with God will deepen. Pray for Eric as he begins to wrap his brain around his new responsibilities in running the physical plant of the hospital. Pray that the “joy of the Lord would be their strength” and that their enjoyment of God will be that which spills out of their lives as they embark in this new journey of being “on mission” doing “missions.”
Kosiorek's, we love you!

            “Kosiorek’s- We Love You!”

Pastor Shirk


Shannon Schmit Baptism

Shannon Schmit

David Tran Baptism

David Tran

Kara Grohs

Kara Grohs

Jennifer Yuhnke Baptism

Jennifer Yuhnke

Eric Stroud Baptism

Eric Stroud

Last Sunday, Father’s Day, was so much more than just Father’s Day! It was a celebration of God’s goodness and grace in our midst. We celebrated the blessing of how the Lord is at work in the lives of our men. They are working hard at being men of eternal influence in their important capacity as fathers. We also celebrated the five stories of transformation that were our privilege to hear by those baptized.
What was a special blessing to me in the testimonies was how God used YOU – our church family as vessels to draw others to Himself in saving grace.  A dad took a teachable moment in the life of His son and rather than just yell at him for disobedience, wisely used that tender time of failure to point his son to where genuine spiritual help could be found. A family by faithful attendance to the services week in and week out experienced God’s clear work in the life of their daughter through the preaching of the Word. A boyfriend led his girlfriend to the “path that leads to life” by inviting her to church.  A couple took the initiative to not just to pray about a young man in their lives, but seized that opportunity to present the gospel to a searching heart. A friend was called because of the clarity of her godly live that emanated hope to one who had lost their way… and then found Jesus as the healer and help of her soul.
Enjoy the pictures of these testimonies from a special day that recognized our earthly dads and the life changing work of our Heavenly Father! You may click on this link to watch the testimonies.