This is Your Church
Rev. Dr. Lisa Culpepper’s compelling story from her recent Outreach trip to Syria helps explain the value of supporting the overall work of The Outreach Foundation through the Annual Appeal this August
by Rev. Dr. Lisa Culpepper
“This is your church.” These are the words that I heard as I sat in worship at the newly completed National Evangelical Church in Aleppo with visiting church leaders, board members, and The Outreach Foundation’s Executive Director, Rob Weingartner.
Earlier that day, we had visited the site of the original National Evangelical Church which was reduced to rubble by tunneled bombs in 2014. In 2012 as war came to Aleppo, many members of the Church began to flee the city. In the early years of the war, the church declined from 500 members to 80. Yet, after it’s destruction by terrorists, church members began to meet in a five-floor walk-up apartment and the church began to grow again. Attendance increased 50% in the worst years of the war as church members worked together to provide food and clothes to those in need, regardless of their faith. Daily they visited the sick, provided transportation to hospitals, and gave comfort to the grieving.
As we walked and talked among the rubble, Rev. Ibrahim Nseir and Synod General Secretary Joseph Kassab shared the rich history of this now demolished building. Our feet were stumbling over the rubble of the old church and tears were tumbling down our cheeks when someone spotted a gleaming white stone fragment. Upon picking it up, we discovered that it was inscribed with a portion of Psalm 23, “You anoint my head with oil…” This portion of the original stone altarpiece that laid hidden for five years was now held in the hands of Rev. Ibrahim as a message of comfort, assurance, and the hope for lasting peace.
Later that night, as we worshipped together, Rev. Ibrahim presented the fragment to Rob Weingartner. And looking upon our visiting team, he said, “I want you to have this relic because this is your church. Without the help of The Outreach Foundation and the relationships we have formed, we would not be worshipping in this new sanctuary. This is your church!”
As The Outreach Foundation begins the season of its annual appeal, know that this church and other ministries around the world can be yours too. Through a gift to our annual appeal, you can be a part of a resilient church that continues to minister in the name of Christ to hurting communities affected by war, economic oppression, and poverty.
Gifts to the annual appeal help support the overall work of the Foundation that is key to all of the ministry to 50 global partners in 37 countries. Your gifts to this appeal enable the leadership staff to continue to make vital connections between donors and global partners. Through your gifts, long term relationships are cultivated, pastors and church leaders are equipped and trained, and ministries of compassion are strengthened for the healing of human hearts. Give today to our annual appeal and let this church be your church.
Rev. Dr. Lisa Culpepper
Outreach board member, traveler, and friend