A Prayer Update from the Vanek’s – February 2018

Greetings from inner-city Cleveland! February 22, 2018

If you read our prayer update from November of 2016, you are well aware of how many volunteers it takes to operate a ministry like Faith Baptist Community Center. Keeping various ministries staffed is a challenge, to say the least. As you can imagine, there is an active ebb and flow regarding volunteerism. We lose volunteers periodically (for a variety of reasons) and must recruit new volunteers to fill those vacancies. During our time serving at FBCC&C, we have endeavored (whenever possible) to seek replacement volunteers from within the church plant and inner-city community, as opposed to recruiting volunteers from outside, suburban churches. Don’t misunderstand the point…we have many dedicated volunteers from local, supporting churches who we appreciate and greatly valuethe ministry wouldn’t be where it is without them! However, if an independent church is to become an eventual reality on East 55th Street, community people who have accepted Christ will have to develop a biblical “service mentality…one that seeks to serve, rather than one that merely satisfies itself with being served. Jesus was and is our prime example. He said: “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve...” (Matt. 20:28). That is the mindset we desire to see from those God has called us to serve in Cleveland!

As I have been preparing to run the Jobs for Life program again this year, I have given much thought and prayer to what modifications should be made to increase the positive outcomes from the program. It was during that process that the Lord directed my thoughts to the “intersection” of the Jobs for Life program and volunteer service. Let me explain… In December, Millie Krieke, our Thursday medical receptionist, retired from her ministry after 17 years of service. That left the need for a receptionist. One option, of course, would have been to recruit a volunteer receptionist from among the Center’s supporting churches. Instead, we approached Paula (a graduate from the last Jobs for Life class) about filling that position on a volunteer basis. She agreed immediately and, in fact (with tears in her eyes), admitted that when she learned that Millie was retiring, had prayed that the Lord would allow her to be approached about being the next receptionist. She is doing a wonderful job and we are anticipating that her experience as a volunteer receptionist will build her confidence and serve as a springboard into future, regular paid employment. I will be working with her to that end as time goes on. In March, Paula will be baptized (along with three others) and will become a member of Faith Baptist Community Church! She is now actively involving her children in the ministry as well.

The Jobs for Life program this year will be modified to replicate what has been accomplished with Paula.

Each participant will complete three 13-week phases. The first phase will consist of formal training (including job interest assessment, skill building activities, resume writing, interviewing practice, character development, and basic computer skills). The second phase will be a volunteer “internship” (within a ministry area at FBCC, such as office, medical, kitchen, retail, cleaning) that will promote the development of entry-level job skills. The final phase will include an extensive focus on job search, placement, and support. The class size will be kept to four individuals this year to allow for intensive one-on-one work. A future goal is to secure funds to provide a stipend for each internship to motivate the students and to give them an opportunity to practice money management on a small scale. If you’d like to assist with funds for a Jobs for Life student, contact us. Please pray that the Lord would bring the right four individuals to us. We hope to begin the first phase of the program in April.

Since our last prayer update, we have been able to visit several of our supporting churches. That is always a blessing. We come away from each meeting refreshed and reminded of the faithful prayers that are made on our behalf. In December, we returned to a church in Greensburg, PA, that we had visited during our initial deputation ministry over 12 years ago. Some members of that church had been praying for our family for many years. After being there, we were blessed to have the church partner with us via financial support. We currently have 33 supporting churches and 18 individual supporters. We thank God for each one…they are a vital part of our ministry!

Continue to pray for the missionary team and the many volunteers who serve with us at FBCC&C. If you are ever in the East 55th Street area, stop in. We’d love to see you!

Serving Christ,

Michael, Sherri, Emily, and Benjamin Vanek