February 21, 2016

Greetings on yet another beautiful SoCal Day!

Where did the month of February go?  With March here so quickly, I am praying that these days are fruitful and Spirit filled for you and your ministry.  There are so many great events happening across the district right now.  Many of you are in the midst of final plans and preparations for Holy Week.  Believe it or not… Palm Sunday is only two short weeks away.

This past week I’ve been a little busy in my journeys across the district.  Earlier in the week I made my way up the coastline and met with one of our church board… and what a gorgeous drive up the 101 I had.  WOW!!! The sun was out, and the ocean was crystal clear.  The rolling hills to my right were a forest green color with many herds of cattle grazing about.

A few days later I made my way up the 395… the eastern and northern part of our district… and the scenery changed entirely.  The deep blue ocean had changed to Joshua Trees and cactus.  The green grass was now shrubs and tumbleweeds blowing about.  Yet, the mountains to my left with majestic snow-capped peaks were nothing short of amazing.  I just love God’s creative work.  And we have churches in every part of the land.  Praise His name!

Fast forward a couple more days and I’m back in the “jungle city” with traffic, high risers, freeways, and lights… meeting with church boards and committees.  I am blessed by the Lord to see His handy work all across the wonderful Los Angeles District Church of the Nazarene.  And guess what?  You are all part of the team.  Aren’t you glad?  I am.

ENCOURAGEMENT“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”  (First Corinthians 12:26)  Every day we make proclamations.  We are a people who like to tell stories.  We live to hear stories.  I don’t know a child who doesn’t like to hear a story read to them.  I recall late at night in the jungle, just as we kids were getting ready to go to bed, the lights were all out, the generator producing electricity for our small home was turned off, and a kerosene lantern was flickering in mom and dad’s bedroom.  With flashlights in hand, I’d make my way into mom and dad’s bed area, and say, “Dad, can you tell us a story?”  Dad was the best storyteller ever! 

I’d return either to my younger sister’s room, or younger brother’s bed… and we’d lay down as dad would pick up from the made up story he had started the night before.  With wide eyes staring into the dark ceiling of our jungle home, we listened to every word he spoke… envisioning each and every detail of a young native boy on the hunting path trying to learn the ways of becoming an Indian brave as he fought off bears, jaguars, and pit vipers… 

Who doesn’t like stories?  We all like to hear stories… and who was the Master Storyteller… but, Jesus!  All through the Gospels we find Jesus telling stories… some, He made up… others, may have been experiences He had learned in His journeys throughout the land.  But, Jesus told stories.  He trained His followers so well, that when He left them for heaven and gave His own Spirit to live within them… they too began to tell the story.  Look at Peter’s first and second sermons.  Then it was Stephen who told the story so well… that they stoned him for the truth he spoke. 

Even this past Sunday, while worshipping along with my brothers and sisters, as we gathered around the table… and ate the bread and drank from the cup… we were not just remembering His story, but we were’ telling His story once again.  With Holy Week just around the corner, you may soon be joining your family around the communion table.  May I encourage you to, not only reflect on the greatest story ever told… but as you eat the bread and drink from the cup… be thinking as to HOW you can continue to tell the story to others.  Let’s become PROCLAIMERS of that wonderful story that’s brought change to our lives.  Jesus Lives!

NEWNAZ PASTORIt was with great joy and blessing that I had the privilege of installing the new pastor in the very church I was honored to serve in for more than 22 years.  Welcome Pastor Josh and Courtney Johnson and baby Gracie!  We are so glad to have you at NewNaz.  I believe the lord has special plans for this great church in the days, months and years to come.  Of course, I’m quite proud of my daughter, Aubree, who is also taking lead in the worship there now that Leslie is beginning to join me in my journeys.  

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DISTRICT ADVISORY BOARDSo I decided to get a DAB photo of the group since we were all together at the same time.  And you know… whenever you get Nazarenes together… there is always a time of fellowship.  Can you name the members of the DAB? 

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SDMI“Los Angeles District’s Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International Committee (SDMI) is once again recommending Forest Home for children’s summer camp programs. Over the last 5 years, many of our churches have been using Forest Home and been experienced a robust, healthy and Christ focused camping experience.  If your church is interested in talking to Kathy Cannon, SDMI Chair, about children’s camp, please contact her at kathleenlc@aol.com as soon as possible.  Financial aid may be available.  In addition, there is one full camping scholarship for children, funded by the SDMI goodbye gift to the Ferguson’s.  If you have a camper who should be considered, regardless of the camp you are attending, please contact Kathy.”

NYI FUSIONOne of the greatest events occurred last weekend in our San Fernando Church.  A special thanks goes out to our District NYI Leaders: Pastors Aaron Caluza and Johnny D!  They delegated much of the work to the leadership team at SF… and Baltazar and Zarina, along with Pastors Adrian and Elvira Velasco put together an incredible weekend of fun, fellowship, work, food and worship.  I’m not sure how much sleep anyone received… but the youth had a blast.  More than 150 people gathered from across the district.  I was able to join in for a moment on Friday night as the kids were enjoying their time on the Go-Carts.  And then again on Saturday at noon for their closing time of fun and worship.  Great job, everyone! 

This next week I’m making a quick trip to Peru in order to check on a few details with a few superintendents as we make plans for a District Work & Witness Trip to the Amazon Jungle in October of this year.  The plan will be to do some repairs on the mission station and the District Center in Condorcanqui.  At the same time we’ll be hosting to Pastors’ Conferences for more than 250 people. I am grateful for a district that has a mind for missions… both here at home and overseas. 

I love you all, and I look forward to seeing you sometime soon!

Greg Garman