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.


Rob Bell, Oprah And The Post New Testament Age



There is a new Bible, or should I say a “post” New Testament. You know, as in “post” modern. The cultural elite of our day have written it. They have received insight and revelation from God or maybe I should say permission in their minds from God to write this new teaching.  Now, it hasn’t yet been codified into one document that we all can look at and agree is there, but that is so passé anyway. It is the digital age after all. Besides, limiting this glorious new doctrine to one finite book is too restrictive and by definition goes against one of the main tenets of this post New Testament; restricting restrictions. But mark it down, there is a post New Testament being preached from and worshiped.

Now this supposed new canon is legitimate because some scholars who have religious type credentials said a few years back that we can have a post New Testament if we want it. They said since the New Testament corrected and cleaned up so many messes from the Old Testament there must be something to clean up the messes still left in the New Testament. These scholars championed something called the Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics or Trajectory Hermeneutics. “Say what?” you say. First, hermeneutic is a fancy term to mean how one approaches and interprets the Bible. Second, here is a run- of- the- mill Wikipedia definition of this approach, but it is a pretty good one:

 “A hermeneutical approach that seeks to locate varying ‘voices’ in the text and to view this voice as a progressive trajectory through history (or at least through the Biblical witness); often a trajectory that progresses through to the present day. The contemporary reader of Scripture is in some way envisaged by the Biblical text as standing in continuity with a developing theme therein. The reader, then, is left to discern this trajectory and appropriate it accordingly.”

“Say what?” you say again. Just focus on the last sentence, “The reader, then, is left to discern…” Simply stated you and I are writers of this post New Testament book; or least we can be if we want to be. We get to clean up whatever messes we think God just didn’t get to yet in the New Testament.

The landmark work on this hermeneutical approach came from William Webb in his book,  “Slaves, Woman and Homosexuals.” Webb argued that the trajectory of slave treatment was towards less slavery from Old to New Testaments. Therefore, the abolition of slavery along with a majority consensus from society denouncing slavery, completes the trajectory God intended. Likewise, the “treatment” of women in the Bible progresses from the Old to the New with increased rights and privileges. Thus, the varied woman’s liberation and equal rights movements of the last century again show that society has simply followed the trajectory God had begun in the New Testament.

Then there is the issue of homosexuality.  Webb argues there is an ever so subtle softening of the view of homosexuality from the Old to the New. He thus projects the trajectory of homosexual rights and privileges will also move forward but at a slower pace (keep in mind he wrote this book in 2001 before the rapid development of the LBGT movement).

Sounds reasonable. Sounds fair. Sounds politically correct. Sounds loving. No wonder it has gained so much traction even by millions who have never heard of William Webb. It is the philosophy of this age; we are so much smarter than anyone before us; we must be inspired by God to correct the mess He left for us to clean up. Surely God never meant for His revelation to end 2,000 years ago. He obviously has called us to complete what He started and we are more than happy to do so.

In particular, this is why you see the homosexual argument linked to the slavery argument or the role of woman argument. We are evolving, just as the Old Testament evolved to a New Testament, we are writers of an ever newer “post” New Testament. We are the ones truly fulfilling the law. Jesus, He came close, but didn’t get the job done. We on the other hand will pick up where He left off and take it from here.

This hermeneutical approach gives credibility to the idea that the Bible is antiquated for another era. It is a good book but let’s be real, there are just so many things in it that keep us from doing things we really like to do. It’s just, you know, too restrictive. So we must overwrite some of it and if we say we are being true to it by simply saying God wasn’t done yet and is still writing doctrine through us, well, we can feel pretty good about that.

Enter Rob Bell. Many of you reading this may not be familiar with Rob Bell, but he was this up and coming pastor in Michigan, drawing in a large number of young people with a hipster persona and a fresh way of teaching the Scriptures. Now, just a few years later he is considered a heretic by most if not all orthodox practitioners of the gospel ministry as he tours with Oprah Winfrey. What happened? He bought into the trajectory hermeneutic approach. This approach led him to write a book which renounced the existence of hell and the authority of the Scriptures. In his latest book, he embraces same-sex marriage. He believes that we are not bound by the Scriptures but rather we are to interpret the evolution of love that God started in the Bible against what we as a culture see as right and good. What we see as right and good surpasses the Scriptures because we are on this trajectory or redemptive movement through time. So, if most people do not believe in hell then there must not be one because how could a loving God have something His creation doesn’t want? And if most people believe in same-sex marriage, then that must be what God wants because God is for us not against us.

What is most insidious about all this however, is this faux attempt to justify these beliefs by tying them to a supposed “scholarly” understanding of the Bible. In other words, giving religious cover to that which is directly rejected by the Bible. This explains why people can say; “The Bible, as it turns out, really supports homosexuality.” Um, it doesn’t. But when supposed religious people like Rob Bell teach it does, via trajectory hermeneutics; it gives people what they want- a God who condones their personal desires.

That, my friends is called idolatry. But hey, idolatry is too restrictive and old fashioned of an idea so  let’s throw that out.  After all, the New Testament says the truth shall set me free and the truth according to the cultural majority is that my God wants me happy. So God, as it turns out, supports what I believe and that is the new and exciting gospel of our times. See how this works?

The apostle Paul warned of itching ears and boy do we have them. We are building our own Tower of Babel to our own heaven based upon the collective, so called wisdom of our age. Ironically, a guy named Nimrod was in charge of the first Tower of Babel and I think he might be in charge of this one too.

The canon is closed. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.


Blown Away

In the midst of this long harsh winter take 8 minutes to watch the video below and be blown away by what we are supporting as a ministry. The hospital in Mango, Togo where the Kosioreks are heading held its’ inauguration ceremony last week. Thousands of Togolese flocked to the hospital along with the President of Togo to participate in this historic day that saw the hospital project reaching completion. The Kosioreks are reaching completion of their language learning at the same time and will, Lord willing be at the hospital July 2nd. Please pray for this ministry and pray the Lord will raise up the final financial need ($20,000). The Kosioreks have to move all of their belongings and themselves to Togo. God is doing incredible things in northern Togo and the surrounding countries and our very own Kosioreks will be there soon to do their part see many come to Christ!