You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Current Topics’ category.

Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Week, the last week of the Christian solemn season of Lent that precedes the arrival of Easter.

In the Bible, as well as from sources outside of the Bible, we see that the use of “palm branches” was often tied to “victory.” The Bible first shows us this in conjunction with the “Feast of Tabernacles.” As a part of this celebration, the Israelites were commanded by God to construct and live in “booths” (for 7 days), which were made from “the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook” (Lev 23:40)(also see: Neh 8:14-18). This was done to commemorate the way the people of Israel lived after God gave them “victory,” and brought them out of Egypt.

     While not recorded in the Bible, history tells us that waving palm branches was also done to celebrate kings and conquerors. We also know that in Greek athletic competitions, victors were often given a palm branch, which they would wave to celebrate their “victory.” Palm branches are a part of Christian worship on Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, as it is sometimes called. This event commemorates Jesus Christ‘s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, as foretold by the prophet Zechariah.

Palm Branches on Palm Sunday

  • In the Bible, Jesus ‘ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with the waving of palm branches is found in John 12: 12-15 (see below); Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; and Luke 19:28-44.
  • Today Palm Sunday is celebrated one week before Easter, on the first day of Holy Week.
  • The first celebration of Palm Sunday in the Christian church is uncertain. A palm processional was recorded as early as the 4th century in Jerusalem, but the ceremony was not introduced into Western Christianity until the 9th century.

The Bible tells us that people cut branches from palm trees, laid them across Jesus’ path and waved them in the air as he entered Jerusalem the week before his death. They greeted Jesus not as the spiritual Messiah who would take away the sins of the world, but as a potential political leader who would overthrow the Romans. They shouted “Hosanna [meaning “save now”], blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Cross made out of palm fronds… see how to make on YouTube

Jesus’ Triumphant Entry in the Bible

All four Gospels include the account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem:

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.​” (John 12:12-15)

Palm Branches Today

Today, many Christian churches distribute palm branches to worshipers on Palm Sunday, which is the sixth Sunday of Lent and last Sunday before Easter. On Palm Sunday, people remember Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, praise him for the gift of salvation, and look expectantly to his second coming.

Customary Palm Sunday observances include the waving of palm branches in procession, the blessing of palms, and the making of small crosses with palm fronds.

Palm Sunday also marks the beginning of Holy Week, a solemn week focusing on the final days of Jesus Christ’s life. Holy Week culminates on Easter Sunday, the most important holiday in Christianity.

Child Evangelism Fellowship® of North Carolina in Durham presented its 2020 Ministry Briefing and COVID-Relief Update on Wed. Dec. 16th via Zoom for CEF supporters and friends. The Board members of the CEF Durham Area Chapter and its Director shared an exciting year-end report and update on how over 7,000 children were reached even during the restrictive COVID pandemic since March 2020.

See January-March 2020 began with strong ministry – April-December everything was adjusted = 7,000+ city kids reached!

Hear the recorded meeting of testimonies and a Christmas Greeting from the board members. The year-end report was given by me, the director. Here is the LINK for the meeting (use this 7k^c4fx$ to view). To read a more detailed report with graphics and pictures click on NEWSLETTERS and look for 2020 Ministry Report. I’ve posted, below, the graphics for my 2020 ministry report.

We have always followed a simple, but profound threefold purpose: evangelism, discipleship, and connecting local churches to unchurched children and families across our area, which is in concert with the mission statement of Child Evangelism Fellowship for 83 years. For 27 years, Child Evangelism Fellowship staff and volunteers have reached city kids in the surrounding Durham area. Through our Good News Clubs, sports camps, and collaborative events with dozens of ministry partners, we’ve been able to share the gospel with children of all ages. Thousands have accepted Christ as their Savior over those 27 years and many lives, families, and communities have been changed. Biblical discipleship and character development are happening weekly in schools and neighborhoods. Prayer Evangelism integrates everything we do.

Prayer Retreat at St. Francis Springs Center in North Carolina

So, after a great start with direct ministry with kids, training volunteers, preaching in the jail, and completing character development classes in schools, everything came to a screeching halt. There were new realities and soon to follow a New Normal. Despite the current situation and changing circumstances across the nation and our state, we simply did what we have been doing, but made some dramatic adjustments and became more innovative and creative. To reach 7,000+ in 2020 here are the adjustments we made and ministries we pushed forward with the help of our volunteers and our CEF Education and Creative departments.

  • Connections, ideas, and access of communication sources we could leverage for all teachers, kids, and families to use in finishing up the already started ministries before summer began.
  • Created, mobilized, and ramped up our prayer networks across the area via prayer walking, PrayDurham and RDU Prays initiatives, engaged in Prayer Walks for Justice & Peace, as well as enrolled in the Ekklesia Excelerator course with other Kingdom-building friends, leaders, and CEF volunteers.
  • Conducted summer camps (reading, 5-Day Club, etiquette, life skills, and character development, but no sports) via Zoom with close to 80% attendance daily for six weeks.
  • Weekly visits in communities, where we minister regularly, with breakfast, care packages, Wonder Why? booklets distributed, singing, and prayer with city kids and their families (per current COVID guidelines)
  • Bike distributions, with a helmet, vest, and bike light for all city kids attending Good News Club in one downtown community (see picture below)
  • COVID-Relief supplies, food, and devotional books were distributed for all city kids and families in another public housing community where we have weekly outreach and clubs. This was accomplished by the community’s CEF ministry team, a financial grant from the Duke-Durham Fund, local churches, food banks, and residents collaboratively meeting the expressed needs of this community throughout the summer and fall. (see picture below)
  • Continued to engage conversations and study with others locally about Race and Justice issues via Christianity Deconstructs Racism and Together We Stand.
  • Team leaders connected Good News Club TV and other learning resources to their students.
  • Drive-thru Back-to-School and Christmas events with our ministry partners as we distributed Christian books, Bibles, and Gospel-centered literature (seen in the video below and see picture below).

Graphics and pictures of ministry adjustments in 2020 and ministry outreach history of the CEF Durham Area Chapter

A long-time CEF volunteer, co-teacher with Lou Brodgen, special friend, hugger, and lover of all children. During a difficult time in her life, Sandy started the Butterflz youth ministry along with CEF and her church. many city kids were reached and nurtured. Her “Celebration of Life” was held on October 24th at Christian Assembly Church in Durham. A butterfly release was done outside following the service. Sandy will certainly be missed, but is now with her Savior in Heaven. June 14, 1969 – Oct. 11, 2020

Friends of CEF Durham: Help us reach city kids now by sponsoring a child/youth to attend a camp this Fall 2020 or Spring 2021   Camps for City Kids includes: Sports instruction and play, character development, Bible clubs with life skills and social etiquette classes, as well as helping all campers understand their God-given value, power, and destiny.

Coach Parrish, after 44 years of coaching and now caring for his son Andy, has join me along with a friend and former Jordan High School classmate, Emily Biggs, with this challenge to all supporters of CEF Durham and all former players of Coach. In the words of Coach Parrish: This is a great opportunity to give back from your athletic experiences to a young kid that needs direction during their early years of development… Today’s city kids need the same challenge and opportunities my former players had, now more than ever.

John Blake recently reported to the CEF Durham Board that 15% of all children we reached this year were enrolled in weekly clubs and programs in schools and neighborhoods. 78% of the total 7,138 kids reached were reached before the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, direct outreach has been a challenge! Even so, 1,500 kids were ministered to this summer in virtual camps, via back-to-school events, and COVID-relief supplies for their families. So, going forward, we will continue virtual clubs/teaching and offer a few camps this Fall and hopefully many more next Spring 2021.

After 44 years of coaching: Coach Parrish has a challenge

Hey! I’m reaching out to all of my former players from Githens Junior School to JHS, SHS, RHS, and JHS again as well as all JPS and PS campers. I’m thanking all of you for all of my GREAT MEMORIES from the start – 1968 – to the end – 2012 – of my coaching journey. On behalf of one of our guys, John “Doc” Blake, a JHS ‘73 student and sport trainer, who went on to become a Sport Medicine and strength coach caring for East Carolina athletes, then at SHS, RHS, JPS and PS athletes.

Today “doc” is the director of CEF in the Durham area. I’ve served on the CEF Board of Directors and led summer sports camps with CEF until Andy’s accident. So, Andy and I, along with Emily and “doc” are challenging each of you to sponsor kids to attend the next camps, which doc Blake and CEF will be offering this Fall and next Spring. This will be a great opportunity to give back from your athletic experiences to a young kid that needs direction during their early development. 

I still love all of you who ran those suicides, which helped in developing your physical and mental toughness to win. Today’s city kids need this same challenge and opportunity more than ever. Finally, I would love the opportunity to reconnect with you.  Just use any of the many media means to contact with me.
Coach Larry Parrish

Connell Green September 7, 1964 – June 29, 2020

Connell lived and ministered in a community where CEF has served in Downtown Durham for 20 years

From Christ Central Church, where both Connell and I have attended for 5 years:

We are heartbroken to share that Connell Green passed away on Monday, June 29, 2020, of liver failure.

Connell was one of Christ Central’s earliest members. We will miss Connell’s bold prayers, his wise and prophetic spirit, his knowledge of scripture, and how easily he called upon God’s Word. We’ll miss his infectious laughter and his smile that could light up an entire room. We’ll miss the way Connell was quick to offer encouragement, to strangers and friends alike. In fact, to Connell, everyone was a friend. He knew no stranger

Connell loved people well. Most recently, we witnessed this as he championed his neighbors from McDougald Terrace who were displaced together for many months. He admirably cared for others in the midst of a really difficult situation. 

Connell’s entrepreneurial spirit was inspiring. He loved baking cookies and sharing them with others. He was a family man who shared his love for his children and grandchildren often. Connell loved to dance. He was a Jobs for Life graduate and an author. 

We grieve Connell’s loss. We also grieve a reality that prevents us from attending his funeral or hosting a celebration for him at this time. We plan to honor Connell’s life in-person when it is safe to do so. Though we find assurance in knowing that Connell is with his Savior Jesus in Heaven, we miss him so much already.

Summer training via CEF Ministries of North Carolina Durham Area Chapter and Camps for City Kids are underway (virtually for now) #Zoom #GoogleMeet #teens #interns #dns_readingcamp #citykids #cityreach cyiatraining #summermissions

Reading and academic sessions, Bible (CEF 5-Day Clubs), etiquette classes, life skills, character development (Power & Light), and some health & wellness mixed in weekly provides a full schedule of relevant and helpful opportunities for students who will be starting a new school year in grades 4-8th in August. These camps run for 6-weeks June 15th-July 23rd.

Sponsorships are still needed for kids to attend our summer and fall camps. Tax-deductible donations are received at Camps for City Kids.

Camps for City Kids will be held for 4 consecutive days during the summer months and school holiday sessions.  These camps emphasize putting God first in every aspect of play and life.  Building solid athletic skills and strong Christian character during drills and team play are expected of every camper. Basketball, Soccer, and Tennis are regularly offered, but other sports like Wrestling, Baseball, Football, and Black-top Games have been held in the past. Sports camps, clinics, and tennis academies are typically held in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Fitness and healthy lifestyles are emphasized during all sessions.

As with everyone, almost, COVID-19 has thrust uncertainty and even cancellation into many great events, vacations, and efforts for kids this summer. However, we are still planning and preparing for these camps in the event we can keep our schedule of 6-weeks June 15-July 23, 2020. If we have to alter and adjust the schedule, then we will still be ready for the kids. So, please sponsor-a-city kid to attend a camp this summer using any of the donate buttons on the CEF Durham site or via our Facebook Fundraiser.

It needs unique strategies and truthful answers to children’s tough questions.

Since all clubs, schools, and camps are cancelled addressing care and prevention of COVID-19, CEF Durham, as many other organizations and agencies, is praying, brainstorming, and planning in many venues and modes of communication. Thus, we are innovating and adjusting how we minister to children and families. Some brief and direct contact with families has occurred to bring supplies, helps, breakfast, and the “Do You Wonder Why?” booklets to each home and child enrolled in CEF clubs.

Though we cannot be directly with the children in our clubs and camps, we are continuing to teach and love the kids in our weekly outreach and discipleship meetings via Zoom calls, web-based teaching, and prayer. Here are other FREE Resources CEF is providing for children, families, and teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Do not fear and be encouraged.

Disruptions are defined as a disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process. Thus, it’s fair to say, disruptions happen regularly, randomly, and even repetitively.

“Disruption is hard, Carey Nieuwhof writes in his blog, because disruption is inconvenient. It’s far easier to keep doing what you’re doing hoping for better results. But just know this: being disrupted is far more painful than deciding to disrupt yourself.” Listening and being prepared as well as being prudent are absolutes in our world of change, trends, flux, aka disruption, whether in ministry, business, or in any type of leadership position.

With that in mind, here are several predicted and active disruptive trends in ministry and leadership that will rule 2020, says Nieuwhof, which are worth knowing and using to evaluate your ministry and/or leadership.

  1. Content-based ministry will decline — Missions and movements will grow: Emphasizing moments and movements and mission are more critical than ever. People don’t just want to know what’s true, they want to know what’s real. And what’s real is deeper than just an idea—it’s an experience.
  2. Growing churches and ministries tend to be led by younger leaders. As a result, the older you get, the less likely you are to innovate, meaning methods. Innovation drives growth and connections with emerging generations. When the methods atrophy, the mission dies.
  3. If you’re looking to deepen the impact of your ministry in 2020, think better prepared/delivered messages, not more messages or ministry events. Quality beats quantity. Everyone will be better.
  4. The middle is disappearing from our culture. This middle is where average lives. The middle is trying to reach everybody. People are gravitating to and seeking smaller, high-quality, and interpersonal gatherings where they can grow spiritually in an interactive faith community. Many restless Christians are moving towards the other extreme of Christian community in mega churches. The extreme ends or the high and the low of churches, business, marketplace, and ministries are thriving. Increase the quality and accessibility of what people need and want.
  5. Insight and access are now more valuable than information. When information is free, it’s no longer valuable because scarcity drives value. And now there’s so much of it no one knows how to process it. Content is everywhere but insight and access are not, there’s a value inversion that’s happening right now in live events.

So, what does all this mean or just suggest? “Leading people to Jesus in a world that’s moving away from Jesus is an increasingly difficult challenge…and increasingly larger opportunity.”

Carey Nieuwhof

Reflect on this content and the full articles by Carey Nieuwhof. Gain insight via access of meeting and discussing these matters with your staff, business teams, and ministry leaders. Factor and apply any adjustments or action points gained for your organization.

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,232 other followers

Find a subject

John E. Blake tweets