Category: Daily Life

Unique encounter

January 8th, 2014 — 11:37am

It was on a late Wednesday night in November after KidsChurch when I found myself in front of this little baby. He laid in his buggy, not moving. I had been told that this not-even-one-year old baby had been very sick and almost died a week before because of some disease. So I settled down in front of him and prayed. Then, I tried to cheer him up making weird faces and every kind of noises. But other than other babies, this little boy wouldn’t even move his eye lashes because of what I did. He would just lie there, starring at me. Eventually, I grabbed my guitar, played some chords and started singing to it. I sang how precious he was and how he was a beautiful and unique creation of God. Having not shown any emotions to me up to that point, he suddenly started crying. That was touching for me and it showed me how God used me through my musical skills to move a heart. I gave a testimony on the Sunday after.
What I didn’t know was that this was the first and the last time I got to meet this boy. A month later, he died unexpectedly due to his disease.

I didn’t ask: ’Why, O God, do you let such things happen?’, I asked:’Why did you made me meet this baby?’ God sends us people along that we get to know; people who we may get friends with, for instance. But he also lets us encounter people who we probably never see again in life and though may have an effect on us. I think God made me realize that life is to be appreciated all day and all night. God sent me that baby to make me realize once again that it’s all about Him. It also showed me that God wants to use me more and more to touch other people’s hearts.This baby neither knew me, nor understood me when I worshiped God. All he did was crying – Not because he wanted to see his mother, not because it was time to change his diaper, but because God was present.

Maybe some of us forget to appreciate life because it’s tough out there and there is nothing to laugh about. We suffer from everyday-diseases, namely stress, unanswered questions about life and others. The things we struggle with make us numb and insensible for divine things. But once we hear God singing to us that he loves us, once we hear his voice calling us by name, we will have nothing else but to run to him. We will break out in tears because we realize what’s wrong in our lives without him. We will break out in tears because all of a sudden we are released from burdens and diseases that we think we carry by ourselves. We will cry because of God’s immeasurable mercy proven with deep compassion for us – He will take our numbness and sickness away because we are his beloved children. He doesn’t have for us to literally die from our sicknesses.

But first and foremost, God showed me through this encounter, how much most of us forget to appreciate life. Life and health is a God-given, undeserved gift we most often take for granted.
Jonathan Philipp

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Making dreams come true

October 10th, 2013 — 2:31pm

Recently Jacob, a guy who’s around 6 years old, came up to me in class asking me if I could finish his long-term-craft project with him. I showed him how to cut on and stay in lines while drawing. One could see great excitement in his eyes. I was really impressed by how motivated he was to bring it all to an end. After a while, he had one of these fancy Nintendo DS gameboys both cut out and colored. It was a pleasure to me to see him smiling about his masterpiece.
But all of a sudden his mood changed. Being frowned, he somehow looked sad and depressed. I eventually asked him ‘What’s the matter with ya, buddy?’. While looking down, he slowely responded: ‘I will never have the real one.’ At first, I didn’t really know how to react on his frustration. As a matter of fact, he was totally right. He would never have this toy he longed to have. I finally said that you simply can’t always get what you want in life. I added ‘Life would be boring if you would always get what you want.’ He put on a big smile and said: ‘But it would be much more fun!’. I grinned back.
Finally, I had an idea for how to make his dream come true. I pretended to hit buttons on his new, self-made game console. Jacob started hitting other buttons on the arrow keys. Then I added weird sound effects that made us both laughing. We seriously ended up playing a made-up game on a console that simply did not exist. We were happy with what we had – Each other and a plain piece of paper that didn’t even move. We could have been the producers of a new game, I could tell!
That’s how a touch of imagination and creativity can make dreams come true. To see a child smiling because I made it happy was an incredible blessing to me. That’s when I considered the American dream being not only centered about wealth or visions for a nation – far off reality for kids – but realistically in what I do for children. The proof is Jakob – A six-year old who just needed a little help to find the way to fulfill his wish.

Jonathan Philipp

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December 14th, 2011 — 12:17pm

Here at Agora, time keeps passing and the weeks seem to be going faster than we can keep up with. We have had so many blessings come through the doors and can hardly keep up with everything that God is doing!  In the past few months we have received a large number of chairs which were very much NEEDED! Also, we were able to do some renovations to the sanctuary for the after school program. New carpet was installed as well as a fresh coat of paint to the walls.  The storage room by the sanctuary has now also become part of the after school program, it too has gotten fresh coats of paint.  Some carpets were also donated to us to use as reading corners for the children.  Two mini vans were donated to be used for the child care center as well as kids church.

Last Saturday evening we celebrated the annual Christmas party with roughly 150 kids and lots of helping hands filled with presents from WCMC. We thank all of you who donated a gift, made food, and most of all lifted us up in prayer for this special evening! I do not remember a night going so smoothly with that many children present. Thank you prayer warriors!! This was such a special evening and we look forward to it year after year. This could very well be the only gift a child receives this year. Every year us as Staff members find ourselves almost more excited than the children because of how much this evening will mean to them. We have been truly blessed at Agora with people that have hearts to be like Jesus. Prayers being heard from near and far around the globe. Keep the kids in your prayers as some of them will not have a joy filled Christmas. Pray that God’s protecting hand would surround them and that they would have opportunities to share what they are learning at church. The heart of a child is so precious and pure, Lord may we have faith as a child!

The Christmas program for Little Gems will be taking place next Monday evening. We ask you lift us up in prayer as this is a time where parents have an opportunity to see what their child has been working on as well as us as staff members to talk one on one with the parents and be a witness.

Also pray that He would keep bringing children through the doors of Agora for the child care center. Our numbers are down but, we are trusting in his plan for us. The Lord provides for his people.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and a joyous time as we celebrate the birth of our living Savior!

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God Can Fix Agora Cars Too!

April 3rd, 2011 — 9:41pm

Last Wednesday evening, we were studying 1 Corinthians 12 where it talks about all the gift the Spirit left for each one in the body of Christ. One of the members in our group had a terrible headache. The Bible says to lift one another up in prayer. We layed hands on Jana and her headache was gone :) Jesus hears even the smallest troubles we have and cares for each one.

By 9:00 that evening, the vans are filled with many energetic children ready to hit the road home. Driving along I began to realize I have no headlights. I have a van load of children and have not dropped even 1 of them off yet…Oh Jesus, give me some wisdom! So I called Pastor Rich and we do not have any other cars to take kids home in…O NO! Ok Lord, this is all yours! I pulled beside the road and explain to the children what is happening. They all are more than ready to go home by this point, but were even more ready to take a minute to pray! I have never seen this many hands go up when I asked who would like to pray. At least 9 kids prayed while I was praying for this to be a time of witness and testimony for these children. I kept flipping the switch to see if they would come, not yet. The Lord told me to get out and give the headlight that hadn’t worked for 5 months a solid tap. LIGHT!!!!! The kids were so excited..’so now pray for the other one!’ I opened the hood, knowing I couldn’t see a thing, but trusting the Lord. Then let the hood nicely shut with a solid thud…and LIGHT!!! Both lights are up and running!

In the mean while, James was running to Auto Zone to get us some new lights. The Lord had another agenda on His mind. Trusting Him. The people at the parts store couldn’t quite believe that James didn’t need the lights anymore..God is so good!!

Knowing the shape that our cars are in at Agora, please keep us in your prayers. We are looking to buy 3 mini vans for kids church and the day care. We are trusting to Lord for the provision and knowing that His timing is perfect. Always.

Also on Friday evening, Becky’s mother passed away. What a life of testimony she lead. Serve the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. She’s walking on those streets of Gold with the One who gives true Life. Keep the family in your prayers as they mourn but rejoice in seeing a wife, mother and grandmother finish the race to victory.



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Tough Times

January 21st, 2011 — 11:50am

As we were taking children home on the van, I had only one more boy left to drop off on a Wednesday evening after church.  He said he would have to go right to bed when he got home since it was his bedtime.  I started asking him what he needed to do to get ready for bed, and I was surprised when he didn’t mention brushing his teeth.  Upon inquiring about it, he said that because toothpaste is so expensive he can only brush his teeth once a day.  He went on to say that his family gets most of their food from the dumpster behind the store.  I was not sure how to respond.  It was not a family I would have suspected with this kind of a problem.  On a regular basis we have families asking for food and such but this is a family that we would not have guessed. The needs in the community are great.


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Songs from the heart

December 20th, 2010 — 11:10am

I was pretty worn out and tired the other night when James and I went to pick up kids for church. Physically and mentally, I felt too tired to be much use to anyone.

We had gotten the kids into the van, and some worship song started playing on the radio. All at once the kids began singing along as loud as they could.

God used this moment to speak right to my heart. Once again he showed me clearly how special and wonderful it is that we here at Agora have the privilege of working with these kids. And, that God equips us again and again with new strength and pours out love for the kids.


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What kind of Transformer are you?

December 20th, 2010 — 10:59am
We see kids come, and we see kids go. The longer a child is at Agora, the more you get to know their “story”. Each child that comes through those doors has a story of their own to tell. Many times they do not open the book for you until a chapter of their life is lying in shreds.
One particular little boy has been a real blessing in my life. God has taught me so much through dealing with the “chapters” that take place in his life. Patience is just one of many things that Christ has been able to teach me through this little guy. Many times it is hard to see the work that is being done in these kids lives because we just get so caught up in the moment.
A few weeks ago, this little guy was having a rough night and just couldn’t sit still or listen. So finally Pastor Rich, James, Paul, the little guy and I sat in a circle and just began to talk. The topic was “TRANSFORMERS”.  Of course this grabs his attention being he LOVES the movie. As the conversation continued, we talked about “good” transformers and “bad” transformers and why each receives that title. Not only did this have his attention, but the Lord also grabbed a hold of me.
What type of transformer are you being turned into? One that is of the life that Christ has for us? Serving one another out of reverence for him and walking in the grace that he said is enough for us? Or is it a transformer that is self-serving and not walking in the light but in darkness?
Each day his mercies are made new.

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A Faithful God

June 3rd, 2010 — 8:52am

As I said in my last post, our group of children keeps multiplying every week– We now have well over 20 children enrolled!  What a blessing!  Our teachers in the childcare center are doing a fantastic job; if you get a chance, affirm Keny, Ina, Nicole, and Janine  for their wonderful work.  The children coming here absolutely love it; sometimes they don’t even want to go home at the end of the day!  We feel so blessed to be given the opportunity to work with all these little gems and their parents.

While things are really going great in the childcare, it has not happened without a lot of hard work.  Pastor Rich and Becky have put a tremendous amount of time and energy into getting this childcare up and running and they continue to do so.  Both work very long hours and do a lot of work so please keep them in your prayers.  Rich and Becky truly enjoy the work that God has given them to do, but they get tired just like anyone else would!  Pray that God will smooth out the last wrinkles in the childcare center and provide more workers to alleviate Rich and Becky’s responsibilities.  Also, pray that God blesses them greatly for their incredible dedication and commitment to serve.

We have some more great news to share.  A few months ago Agora turned in a grant application to a local philanthropy.  Last week we were notified that our application had won!  Needless to say, we were ecstatic!  The grant is going to be a huge blessing and will really help us financially.  Isn’t it just wonderful how the Lord provides?  We learned that we had been awarded the grant the same week we were wondering how we would pay our upcoming bills.  Again and again, the Lord has blessed us and provided for us and proven his faithfulness.

Thank you for your continued prayers!  Please continue to pray.  The Bible tells us again and again that God is faithful when we pray.  Consider Matthew 21:22 which says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  Thank you once again and don’t forget to keep in touch!

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So many “little gems!”

May 20th, 2010 — 5:01pm

We keep getting more and more “little gems” each week!  This week we grew to 13 kids in our childcare center!  Each one of them is such a blessing to us!  This childcare has opened up so many doors for ministry, not only with the children but with their parents.  Last week I was working in the infant care center, holding a 7 week old and it hit me how blessed we are to be entrusted with such precious little children.  I realized that this childcare center really and truly is a source of help, support and guidance for families.  The majority of the families that we currently work with are living in transitional housing, which means that they were living in a shelter just a short time ago.  Without having a place to take their children, they would not be able to go to work and get their life back on track.  I felt like God showed me that not so that I could pat myself on the back, but so that I could realize what a responsibility and opportunity God has place in my hands (and in Agora’s hands).  Please pray that we will continue to have opportunities to show God’s love to families and children!

Church the last weeks have been absolutely wonderful!  The kids are really a blessing!  In general, they have behaved so well and we have not had any problems most nights.  The teens have become more active than ever and we can really see God at work in their lives.  Last night, I spent time talking to a young lady who has been coming to Agora for many years.  Her story is quite possibly one of the worst that I have heard, but a few years ago, she gave her life to the Lord and we have seen God do so much in her life.  Now, she will be graduating in just a few weeks, she is accepted to a college here in Columbus, and most importantly, she continues to dedicate her life to following the Lord.  These kids that we work with continue to inspire and amaze me!  Sometimes I think about all the horrible things that they have faced in their lives and I see how they continue to be hopeful and have faith in the Lord and I just think, “Monica, what excuse do you have?”   Sadly, we still see many older kids and teens that have become hardened by their surroundings; pray for these youth, that their hearts will be softened and they will allow God to break in on their lives.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  We really need and appreciate every prayer that you send heavenward!  Have a great week!

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Thanks in all circumstances

April 19th, 2010 — 6:43am

The last weeks have been different for everyone here at Agora… From time to time, we have had nothing to do!  We are all enjoying the short break before we find Agora packed with little children all day long :) The last weeks have been all about catching up on all the things we neglected during the past months while our main focus was finishing the childcare.

Currently we have two little “students” enrolled in Little Gems Early Learning & Childcare.  Most days we work on spreading the word and getting more students enrolled.  So far it is looking good and we have had a lot of parents express interest.

This past week we hosted a youth group from Tennessee that came over their Spring Break.  It was the group’s fourth time here and we enjoyed them just as much as each time before!  The group was a huge blessing to us.  They completed several work projects around the church including work on the roof and deep cleaning.  In addition, they spent each afternoon going from door to door telling people about Little Gems.  One afternoon several of the girls spent time with Becky, ministering to a Mom that Becky has been working with for a few months. Like I said, the youth group was a blessing to us and to the community.  They were so full of energy and willingness to help out wherever it was needed.  Thanks guys!

Church this past Wednesday night and Saturday night were definitely highlights of the week.  On Wednesday, Pastor Rich talked with the teens about being enslaved to the world and the excuses that we make for our own enslavement.  He spoke about the freedom that Christ has for us.  Many of the teens really participated in the small group time and shared about their various struggles with drugs and lust.  Please pray that what they learned on Wednesday will not be forgotten and that they will find freedom in Christ!

Saturday was also a powerful night for everyone.  As you may remember, Lukas (a German volunteer) was diagnosed with cancer last month.  He has already completed two rounds of chemotherapy.  Saturday he came home from his second round of chemotherapy.  He had spent a week in a hospital bed, exhausted and sometimes sick.  Yet when Rich went to visit Lukas before church, Lukas shared 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Rich shared this story with the children and teens on Saturday night and I am sure that it made many of us think hard about our own lives.  How many things had I complained about just that day?  Too many.  And from the mouth of someone facing a life-threatening disease we were reminded to give thanks in all circumstances.  Not some, not many, but ALL.

Prayer Requests

  • Lukas- pray for continued healing.  In the next weeks and months he will have to undergo surgery and several more cycles of chemo.  Please keep his family in your prayers as well since they cannot be with him right now.
  • Pray for continued interest and enrollment in Little Gems

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