School secretary Therese Ziecina helped propose a volunteer-leadership development program at her school. At the introductory event her son Raymond made a surprise speech.
“I’m a graduate of Marquardt Middle School,” my son, Raymond, confidently shared with 40 seventh graders at the event in October.
“I have an IEP, I have learning struggles, just like many of you. At the beginning of 7th grade I was classified as a non-reader. I could only read two- and three-letter words. There was a teacher, Mrs. McDonald, who took an interest in me and wanted to help me learn to read. I didn’t think it would work, but I gave it a try. By the time I graduated from 8th grade I was reading at an almost 6th grade level. During that same time another teacher, Mr. Gentry, asked me to help out with the sound and lighting at a school play. About the same time, Daniel, a pastor from my church (who is sitting over there), asked me to volunteer on the video team at my church. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I gave it a try. Volunteering on that video team led me to my chosen career. Now, in my last year of college at Indiana Wesleyan University, I am thankful for these mentors. I encourage you to say yes to every opportunity to volunteer, even if you think you are not going to like it. You never know where those opportunities will lead you.”
My son Raymond gave this speech spontaneously after several school administrators shared their planned remarks. He surprised everyone and asked if he could share too. I was shocked and humbled at his honesty. I fought back joyful tears.
I saw in that moment how God has used volunteer opportunities, caring adults, and educational struggles to enable him to help others. God always had a plan for my son. I am so proud that he was able to turn his struggles into a way to bless others.
This is why the Marquardt Middle School Serving Society exists. We wanted to give students, who may not normally have the opportunity, to volunteer. Our hope was that students would benefit from leadership and citizenship skills cultivated in them. For the past year, the Student Serving Society has partnered with the youth programming staff at Bloomingdale Church. We have seen huge strides in social growth in many of these students.
Mark and I have been attending Bloomingdale Church since 2009. We have two awesome kids, Sarah and Luke. Mark and I are hosts for a Young Families community group, I’m a table leader at Tuesday night Women’s Break, and I teach kids’ Sunday School.
You might hear that list and think that I’ve obviously been a “church” person all my life, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was not raised in the church. I didn’t become a Christian until the summer of my junior of college.
My family moved to Illinois from southern California when I was in high school and I had a couple friends invite me to youth group events. They were fine. But nothing really stuck.
Don’t get me wrong… I had no problem with the idea of being a Christian… it’s just that so many of the Christians I saw in the real world didn’t sound like the same type of people I’d hear about as we’d study the Bible in Youth Group. There is a famous quote: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” That pretty much summed it up for me. I didn’t have issues with Jesus Christ or the Bible, I had issues with his followers, and I didn’t want to be lumped in with that crowd. To this day I still have some of the same issues of people “talking the talk but not walking the walk.” But I’ve made a decision that loving and knowing Christ personally is more important than that. I’ve realized we are all flawed, me just as much as the next person, so while the people around me may not look or act much like Christ, they aren’t my measuring stick, Jesus is the who matters.
I went to college to pursue my studies as a biology major. Many people likely think that it is my scientific study that kept me away from God for so many years. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, my growth as a Christian directly correlates with my advanced study in biology.
I guess you could say I’m an exception to the rule… except that I’m by no means the exception. A large number of my friends in the sciences are strong Christians, no matter what the world wants to tell you about science and faith. In fact, I became a Christian while I was at the University of Iowa for a summer research internship. Someone explained to me that I didn’t need to have all the answers and that I shouldn’t allow the actions of others to affect my decisions about the truth. I put my trust in Christ as my Savior that summer. To this day, I can say that I had the strongest spiritual growth of my life during my time at Iowa for my internship and, eventually, graduate work. Iowa… a large, secular, public “party school.” If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that God is everywhere… even in a party school. We just need to seek Him.
I finished my PhD in cell biology and have spent my career teaching and mentoring students while researching the minutiae of breast cancer cells, I love to ask questions and determine how things work. I don’t always like the answers I get (similar to my life as a Christian), but it doesn’t stop me from asking tough questions. In the same way, I feel my faith only grows stronger if I’m willing to question it and make sure it can stand up to the test. God has never disappointed me in my questioning.
Contrary to popular belief, my knowledge of science has drawn me closer to God, not further from Him. My studies of cell biology, developmental biology, and human anatomy have shown me how miraculous it is that we are even here on earth. There is nothing that I have learned in science that disputes the Bible’s truths. And, in fact, there are things that I have learned that point to a Creator God. But my studies of the Bible have also taught me not to discount anything science tells me.
You could look at my life and say I’m an exception to all of the rules. I wasn’t raised in the church, I attended a “party” school instead of a Christian school, and I’m a science nerd doing research on breast cancer. But the truth is that God is real, he is here. Jesus Christ offers us hope, no matter our stage in life. Ultimately, we all have a choice to make. You can choose to seek and follow God with all your heart, which Jesus tells us is the greatest commandment found in the New Testament (Mark 12:30.) Or you can choose not to. God grants us free will to make that choice. And it’s not always easy. Because once you choose to follow God, the next verse of Mark tells us we are to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s so easy to pass judgment and make assumptions about others based on our own life experiences. But that isn’t what the Bible and Jesus tell us to do. There is hope for everyone, but we do need to investigate the truth that God tells us about ourselves, and take it seriously.
55 years ago, Helen started volunteering with children’s programming. She has not stopped serving since!
“I cannot imagine not working with children, teaching them to know Jesus’s love. They have an eagerness to learn and accept the truths they are taught.”
Children’s ministry has it’s own struggles, like times and culture changing throughout the years, according to Helen. Serving while working full-time was a challenge as well. But Helen has learned to adapt and ask God for help.
“There’s nothing more exciting than spending time with children. I’m currently involved in Sunday School, Crossroads at DuJardin Elementary School, and Awana. If you want a blessing, I encourage you to consider becoming involved in serving the Lord in some way: Listen to Bible verses at Awana; Spend time with some amazing boys and girls at DuJardin on Tuesday afternoons. God will bless you immeasurably!”
Helen’s favorite memory from serving in KidsQuest has been watching kids grow from making gingerbread houses together in Sunday School to becoming current leaders in the church, like current Bloomingdale Church staff members Chris and Brent Steinke. “I get tears in my eyes as I watch these boys and girls grow up, especially to be baptized and serve the Lord.”
At Bloomingdale Church, KidsQuest programs are designed to be fun, safe, and a welcoming place for families. But what makes these programs run? Volunteers – adults and teens who give their time to serving kids and families. Thank you, Helen, and 200+ other volunteers!
Young Professionals Pay Off Debt and Increase Savings After Attending Financial Peace University
Due to student loans that often amount to over $100,000 many young professionals feel oppressed by debt. They put off getting married, buying a home, having children, and live with the nagging feeling that they are failures in life.
What can be done? How about a mega-dose of hope courtesy of Financial Peace University?
This hard-hitting, faced-paced, and blunt financial advice is packaged in such a way that the young professionals at Bloomingdale Church took not only hope but action toward a better financial future.
For nine weeks, fellow young professional Aaron Cox led the group of fourteen participants for 100 minutes each Sunday morning. The group covered everything from budgeting, paying off debt, having an emergency fund, saving for a car, a house, and investing for retirement.
Collectively, this small group paid off over $3,148 of debt and saved another $4,600 for their future in just nine weeks.
Charlie Z. wrote: “I do not use credit cards any more. I take out cash at the beginning of each week and put them in envelopes: one for food, one for entertainment, and one for gas. I have truly changed my spending behavior thanks to FPU.”
Raquel V. said that after three months she has paid off two loans and Brent S. said he now has bigger paychecks because he picked up more hours in his second job due to this course. Laura S. said she has updated her insurance policies and has a better understanding of her coverage as well as clear goals to continue her savings priorities.
In short, FPU met a real need. These adults are not living in their mom’s basement but are looking for homes to buy because they learned how to carve out a future.
If you’re curious about baptism, consider joining a 1-hour baptism class that will share what Bloomingdale Church believes about baptism and how it is practiced here. Sign-up here.
Jesus commanded his twelve apostles to make disciples and to baptize them (Matthew 28:18-19). From the beginning, baptism proved to be the line of demarcation when the new Christian declared he was leaving his old way of life in order to live for Jesus Christ.
The highlight of our baptism services is hearing the stories of new Christians declaring the difference Jesus Christ is making in their lives. We cheer, take pictures, and hug soaking wet, newly-baptized people. It is always the highlight of that day at church.
It is important for Christians to declare their faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before me, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)
The next baptism class will be held on Sunday, Oct 16, 9:45-10:45am in the main lobby of the church. The baptism services will be held on October 22-23 at each of our worship services, but we also schedule baptisms for other dates.
Sign-up for the class here:
Mexico Mission Trip (Simply Amazing)
Have you ever known something was good for you, but in the moment you just didn’t want to go through with it? Like at a buffet, you know you should eat your fruits and vegetables, but it’s hard not to be lured over to the make-your-own sundae bar.
Before leaving to go on the mission trip to Guadalajara, Mexico I wasn’t feeling super enthusiastic. I simply didn’t want to deal with the weight of responsibility and effort of a week of service to others.
At this point you may be thinking, “the person writing this is new to church or maybe he’s a kid who’s lazy and maybe his parents are forcing him to go.” But you’d be wrong, I am a 28-year-old director here at Bloomingdale Church who planned and led this missions trip.
I was trying so hard to get myself in the mood to go and serve in Mexico, but like the fruits and vegetables at a buffet. I just couldn’t bring myself to get excited about doing something good when it would be so much easier to just stay home and do anything.
But alas, the date came and I was still responsible for what I needed to do (despite the best efforts in my mind to make it go away). So I followed through.
This trip, serving Jesus and the people of Guadalajara, ended up being one of best trips of my life. I needed to be reminded that God designed us to love Him and love other people, and being focused on doing this for a week straight really helped inspire me toward this perspective: “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:26)
When we serve Him, God will honor us. And this honoring may look different for different people at different times. But for me, during this week, God made it one of the most fulfilling and fun adventures of my life.
Adult Education re-convenes on Sun, Aug 21 during the 9:45am hour. With Bible electives, community groups, and a specialty class, there’s something for everyone.
Who is Jesus?
This will be an in-depth study about the person of Jesus. We will examine the writings of Paul to get a closer look at this man who changed the world forever. Sanjay Merchant will lead this study starting 8/21/16. Meets in the sanctuary 9:45- 10:45 a.m.
Names of God
In this class we will learn about a different name of God each week. We will explore when the name first shows up in Scripture, what it reveals about God, and how this aspect of God’s person can affect our lives. This class will be led by Nancy Hellstrom and will begin on 9/11/16. Meets in the north building across the parking lot at 9:45 am.
The Book of Genesis
As Pastor David leads us through the sermon series on Genesis, we will study the same passages each week in this companion class. Come and interact with Genesis and each other as we learn from this historic book. Starts on 9/25 led by Bruce Menkveld. Meets in the Common Grounds West room at 9:45 a.m.
Ongoing Groups that Build Community
The Middle Ground
How do people change? How does a person change spiritually, change character? Some people think it’s a mystery that can’t be solved. There are a dozen teachings in the Bible that tell us how change happens with people. It’s not a mystery. There are very practical things we can do to create change. Chad Smith will lead this discussion in Common Grounds East room at 9:45am on Sundays. Join us!
The Young Families
Parents will meet on Sunday mornings and will follow The Gospel Project. The content will be in sync with the stories the kids will be following on Sunday mornings during Children’s Church. The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered Bible study that examines how God’s plan of redemption unfolds in Scripture and today. Led by Charlie Audino in the CoffeeHouse @ 9:45am on Sundays.
A class of young, professional adults, single and married who have social events and do community service projects. Hosted by Pastor Bill & Nancy Calvin in the lower level conference room of the north building across the parking lot @ 9:45am on Sundays.
A class for young adults who want to learn, share and grow together. Brent Steinke is the leader. We meet in the lower level of the gray house from 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.
Those who desire to be baptized are required to take a one hour class to better understand what the Bible teaches about baptism, and how to write a good baptism testimony. Our next class will be offered on Sun, Aug 21 & 28, from 9:45 – 10:45 a.m. in the south lobby. Pastor David and Stuart Guild will be teaching this class. For more information or to register contact Pastor Bill Calvin at email@example.com
Mexico Missions Trip 2016
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” This is a command from Jesus to take action outside of our own groups and peoples. Jesus calls his people to think globally and to think outside the four walls of their homes and local church.
From August 3-8, Bloomingdale Church is sending 11 people to Guadalajara Mexico to serve alongside Dan and Amber Marcello. The team will run a Day Camp for four different churches in the area. This will include clown skits, music, and a presentation of the good news of Jesus.
The team has been meeting monthly since January to prepare for this trip, all the while praying with one another. The team would love for you to come alongside them in prayer as they go into the world to join in the work that God is already doing.
Communion in the Community [Up In Out]
In our new series, Up In Out, we turn to Jesus’ explanation of communion. This message was presented by David Riemenschneider on July 2 & 3 at Bloomingdale Church.
Meet R.J. (Raymond) Ziecina, our summer Media Intern
Hello, my name is R.J. (Raymond) Ziecina. I am interning under Christopher Steinke as a Media Intern this summer. I was born and raised in Glendale Heights just a few blocks from the church and have been attending Bloomingdale Church most of my life.
This fall I will be a senior at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) Marion, Indiana. I am majoring in Christian Worship with a focus in Church Media.
I have had an interest in technology for most of my life, which has led me to have many opportunities such as volunteering with the technology in a few churches. I have attended Christian media conferences and also work with IWU’s TV station.