Our Christmas Eve offering of $73,149 was used to start a church and build a building in Ecuador to house a Compassion International project. Thank you, Pantano, for making that possible! We are expanding the reach of the gospel and bringing the hope of Jesus to children and families living in extreme poverty. Your amazing generosity allows us to partner with Compassion and a church in Ecuador to plant Christian Church Arco in El Oro Province, Ecuador.
This church plant is part of our vision to be a catalyst to help a local church create a permanent presence for their ministry. Having a safe new building to meet in gives the church room to grow and the capacity to offer Compassion’s holistic child development program.
The local Compassion International staff members work closely with our church partner in Ecuador to help the church’s leadership grow strong through wise counsel and mentoring. Our three-way partnership values and encourages local resource mobilization and local ownership from the beginning. We aim for this not only in the initial construction of the church plant infrastructure you have helped fund but also in the child development center’s ongoing program implementation.
Pantano, because of you, the church in Ecuador is now mobilized to expand and help more children be known, loved, protected, and discipled for a hopeful future. Thank you again for investing in this opportunity for a new church to positively impact a community in Jesus’ name.
I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the new church. Later this year, we’ll start sponsoring the children in the program, and when international travel allows, we’ll start making visits. Stay tuned for more!
Merry Christmas everyone! May the hope, peace, joy, and love that God brought to us as he came in the person of Jesus fill you now and always as you abide in Him.
Christmas Eve Services
Don’t forget to RSVP for one of our five Christmas Eve services on Wednesday (12/23) and Thursday (12/24). While our services are family-friendly and focused, we do have Kids ministry for ages birth to 5 years as an option. Some of the services have already and will fill up. Click here to RSVP.
Christmas Eve Offering
This year, our Christmas Eve offering will go to help build facilities for a new church in Santa Rosa, Ecuador that will be used to launch a Compassion project serving 300 children in need. You can give at the Christmas Eve services or online.
2020 has been a hard year for everyone and for most businesses, nonprofits, and churches. And not to our surprise, our giving is about $76,000 behind giving last year at this time. If you can and desire to do any catch up giving or have a year-end gift, please mail it before 12/31. It must be postmarked by that date to count toward 2020 giving. You can also give online before 12/31. Thank you for your faithfulness, grace, and patience as we’ve all had to pivot and adjust this year!
Coming in 2021
We are giving our staff and volunteers a full break next Sunday. There will be no online or in-person services Sunday, December 27th.
No one knows what 2021 will bring. But we’ll resume and regather on January 3rd with a new series called Difference Maker. We’ll be doing a study from the book of Nehemiah. We all want our lives to count, we want to make a difference. How does one person, one church make a difference? There are some things that people who follow Jesus and make an impact have in common: they know why they exist, they have a plan to accomplish their goals, they are able to push past difficulties and they work with others.
We’ll also launch the year by focusing on our One Word for the seventh year in a row. Start now to pray and reflect on your one word for 2021.
What was the best gift you ever got? What was the best gift you ever gave? Is there a special gift you are hoping for this year? Is there a gift you can’t wait to give? Christmas is all about giving. It was God who gave the most significant gift ever that first Christmas – the gift of Jesus. The Magi traveled over 500 miles to give their gifts to the new king of the Jews.
The heart of Christmas today is still found in giving, but not primarily in giving or getting the perfect, cool, well thought out Christmas presents. The best gift is when we give ourselves to others. Here are some options to give and serve this Christmas:
Wrap presents for Healthcare workers at TMC – Our healthcare workers are overworked right now. We can help them out! Tucson Medical Center has asked us to help wrap the presents of the healthcare workers who don’t have time to wrap them for Christmas. You can sign up for two-hour shifts (10 am – 12 pm) or (12 pm – 2 pm), Monday through Friday, December 14th-23rd. Sign up here!
Senior Santa – Here is an opportunity to bring a little joy to a senior this Christmas. This year has been especially hard on seniors, and Senior Santa provides Christmas gifts to low-income seniors in assisted living facilities. This year our Senior Santa program has moved online, and you can purchase a gift from Amazon, and it will be shipped directly to them. Sign up here!
Serving at our Christmas Services
We have opportunities to serve families at our Christmas services by helping out in our Kids Ministry or serving in our courtyard or cafe. Sign up here!
Christmas Eve Offering
Our Christmas Eve offering will help build a church that will host a new Compassion center for children and families that are struggling. Compassion International in Ecuador thoroughly investigated and identified a target area in need of a Christ-centered church that preaches God’s Word. Your gift will help build two classrooms, bathrooms, and a water system that will serve over 300 under-resourced kids.
The cost of the facilities to start a Compassion center in Santa Rosa, Ecuador will be $75,000. You can give online and choose the Christmas Eve giving fund in the drop-down menu. Everything collected on Christmas Eve will go to help build a church to host a Compassion program. What a great way to celebrate Christmas and make a difference for hundreds of kids and families!
Christmas Eve Services
We’ll have five in-person Christmas Eve services on December 23 @ 5 & 7 PM and December 24 @ 3, 5 & 7 PM. We are asking everyone to RSVP for the service you would like to attend, that way, you’ll be assured that the service you selected will have lots of space for physical distancing for you and your family. Don’t forget to invite your friends and family to join you. RSVP here. We’ll have Kids Ministry from birth to 5 years that you can RSVP for also.
Christmas Eve Offering
Our Christmas Eve offering this year will help build a church that will launch and then host a new Compassion center for children and families that are struggling. Compassion International in Ecuador thoroughly investigated and identified a target area in need of a Christ-centered church that preaches God’s Word.
This is the second church that we’ve helped build in Ecuador in partnership with Compassion (the first church is in Playas). We love the Compassion model: Compassion focuses exclusively on children and works only through the local church. Compassion keeps Jesus at the center of all they do as they provide kids with spiritual, physical, educational, and social development and care.
The Arco de Santa Rosa is a new church plant ministering to children and their families in Santa Rosa. The church is working in an under-resourced neighborhood that lacks safe water and sanitation. The new church has only one classroom to serve almost 300 children and has to improvise by using tents and a rotating schedule to accommodate all the children.
Pastor Miguel Alfonso (pictured below) is leading the church. He came to Christ through his daughter, who was a part of a Compassion program. He’s passionate about discipling the parents of the kids enrolled in the Compassion experience.
This new congregation, with Pantano’s help, will build two reinforced concrete classrooms, one large bathroom with eight toilets, eight sinks, and four urinals, and one cistern with an elevated tank and a water pump.
The cost of the facilities to launch a Compassion center will be $75,000. You can give online (choose the Christmas Eve offering option), or you’ll be able to give at our Christmas Eve services. Everything collected on Christmas Eve will go to help build a church to host a Compassion program. What a great way to celebrate Christmas and make a difference for hundreds of kids and families!
Our Time to Shine
I know this may shock you, but I love the season we are in. I don’t like that people are dying. I don’t like that people are losing their jobs. In fact, the list of things I don’t like is rather long. But I love how we, the church, have the best opportunity, maybe in my lifetime, to fulfill our mission. Being the church is not about gathering in a building. Being the church is when we bring the love of Jesus to others and shine like a bright light in the darkness.
The Early Christians
Did you know that when the church first began, it was considered a dangerous cult by the Roman Empire and was severely persecuted? In the absence of our modern understanding of disease and proper sanitation, pandemics were common back then. And when the pandemics hit, it was the Christians who refused to flee the cities and stayed and served the sick, risking their own lives. That was a key turning point for the church. The Romans realized that Christians actually loved people and sacrificed to serve and gained the respect of many.
The mission God has given our church is more important than ever – loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference. This is the time to be on mission. This is not a time for our church to hunker down in fear. This is our opportunity to rise up and serve our city in the name of Jesus. And this week, we are in full focus to do just that. Here’s how you can love people to Jesus:
If you have a need, or if you know of someone in need, we have an awesome team of volunteers that are willing to shop for folks and help with groceries & supplies. Fill out a request by going to pantano.church. On the front page, you’ll see a red section called “Loving Our City.” You can let us know if you or someone needs help or you can sign up to volunteer.
Collection and Distribution
We are also collecting items needed by the Department of Child Safety, the Gospel Rescue Mission, AZ Baptist Children’s Services and specific families in need. Go to the Loving Our City page at pantano.church/lovingourcity and you’ll find the list of items these groups need. Drop them off at the office curbside bins at the East Campus (1755 S. Houghton Rd.) Mon-Fri 9am-4pm.
Front Line Hospital Staff
Pantano Christian Church is the point of contact for TMC and St. Joseph’s hospitals. Here’s what they’ve asked the church for and what’s in the works:
There are hundreds of ways you can love people to Jesus. Folks in our church are mailing cards to those stuck at home. At last count, over 600 face masks have been made and delivered. Look for ways to serve folks in your neighborhood or network of relationships. Find a way to encourage, serve and lift up someone in this time of huge disruption. All of these things can be done in a safe way that respects physical distancing.
Now, more than ever is our opportunity to be Jesus to our city. Rise up church, and make a difference that not only affects life today but also for eternity.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday have passed. It’s Christmas time! Here’s a bit of what Christmas looks like here at Pantano:
Christmas Teaching Series
The Christmas series for all of our campuses is called Unexpected: The Story of Christmas. The story of Christmas found in the gospel is unexpected. God had been silent for 400 years. The people of God felt forgotten and yet, in the quiet, dark countryside, God remembered and came to them. But it wasn’t what they expected. He came in the form of a baby; not to the king or powerful leaders, but to the lowly, the poor, the young and the old. We’ll look at five people’s response to their unexpected encounter with God as the original Christmas story unfolded. In this series, we’ll see how God showed up in unexpected places and ways – then and now.
We’ve decorated Pantano East and we’re ready for December Nights. This public family event happens Friday and Saturday nights from 6-9 PM on December 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th. The event is free!
Here’s what you’ll be able to enjoy and experience at December Nights: The Road to Bethlehem, an amazing winter wonderland (my favorite), cookie decorating, family portraits, crafts, horse-drawn hayrides and carols ($6 per person), bingo, campfires and marshmallows, hot chocolate, live music and more.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
This year we’ll have 5 Christmas Eve services on Tuesday, December 24th at 11 AM, 1, 3, 5, and 7 PM. Each service is an identical family-friendly one-hour service. We do have childcare for kids birth to five years old if that would be helpful to you.
Pantano Southeast will be joining us at the East Campus this year, so we added the 11 AM service to make room for all. If you can, please consider attending the 11 AM service to make room at each of our services.
For more details about the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, check out ChristmasAtPantano.com. If you will be out of town or unable to join us, you can watch each service online at pantano.online. I hope to see you there!
Over the years, many folks have ended up being a part of our church after experiencing our December Nights or Christmas Eve services. Use these opportunities to invite folks who normally won’t step onto a church property. Who might you invite to join you this Christmas?
Like most of us, I love the Christmas season. But it’s a bit more challenging to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s sunny, dry, and 75 degrees outside for most of December! And the fact is there really isn’t much to do in Tucson that is uniquely Christmas. There’s Winterhaven! There’s going to the mall to look at decorations! But that’s about it!
That’s why I’m so grateful for our staff and volunteers who decorate our campus so we can create a bit of winter for an amazing Christmas celebration. We even have a winter wonderland with snow and snowballs. We call it December Nights. It is a gift to both our church and our community.
December Nights happens on Friday and Saturday nights from 6-9 PM on December 6, 7, 13, 14. The event is free!
Here’s what you’ll be able to enjoy and experience at December Nights…
This Sunday we’ll have invite cards available for you to take and give to others. This is one of the very best ways to invite people to join you and come to our campus. Over the years, many folks have ended up being a part of our church after experiencing a December Nights event. It’s our chance to welcome and serve folks who normally won’t step onto a church property. Who might you invite?
This Sunday we will dismiss our regular services at both our East Campus and Southeast Campus in order to Serve Our City! There will be NO REGULAR SERVICES this Sunday, November 17th. However, there are some projects being done at the East Campus (1755 Houghton Road) for those who are physically not able to travel or do some of the other projects.
You can pick up a Serve Our City t-shirt at the East Campus during regular business hours (8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday) and Sunday morning November 17th. If you signed up last year, wear your Serve Our City t-shirt!
If you haven’t yet signed up there are still openings, or, you can choose your own service option. Maybe there is someone in your neighborhood that needs help with their yard? Maybe you’ve met someone at work, school, or at a retail store that you know needs some help. Be creative! List your service project at https://mypantano.church/serveourcity. After clicking the “Sign Up” button, you’ll find a tab at the top labeled “Serve Your Neighborhood”.
But why? Why are we canceling services to work all across Tucson? Because that’s what the church should be doing. For too long, many in our culture have seen the church as a non-property tax paying leach on society. Okay, there’s a lot of other issues behind those views like a general disdain for any faith. However, we believe God has called our church to invest and make a difference in our city. Our mission is to love people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference!
If all of a sudden, Pantano Christian were not here, I would hope that our community would miss our positive influence. We’ve committed to helping the Department of Child Safety be able to provide more foster families and reunite families through Care Portal and more. We’ve helped start and support numerous community organizations that serve our city, like Haven Totes, that provide food for low-income kids on the weekends. We regularly serve our schools, like our team at Mary Meredith that mentors and serves kids with learning disabilities. God has called us to help make life better here in this world and guide people to Jesus to find life that never ends in the next world.
But there’s another reason why we Serve Our City; as we leave the walls of the church, we enter into the lives of real people with real needs. On Sunday, don’t miss the opportunity to connect with and encourage those you are serving. Don’t get so engrossed in doing the work that you forget to engage the people you are serving with side by side. It’s not just about getting work done. It’s about connecting with people and serving people as well. Use this Sunday to be generous with your words, your actions, and your resources as you attempt to bless all those involved.
I like to use a lot of abbreviations. One of my favorites is MAD which is short for Making A Difference. That is part of our mission – Loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference. I believe we are saved not just from hell but saved to make a difference in this life, too.
Thanks to the generosity of our church, we helped fund an evangelism and discipleship school in Ecuador. God is doing incredible things through our partnership with Compassion and the local church Plenitud de Dios. Here’s some of what’s happening…
In this community, many families are broken and hurting. Families are in conflict, abuse is common, and alcoholism and drug abuse is evident in many young people and parents. Teaching the gospel is important, as the community typically practices idolatry. Additionally, families are in need of hygiene training to promote health and reduce the spread of disease.
Achieving Positive Outcomes
Our partnership with a church in Ecuador has created two centers to conduct a program for parents of children in the Compassion program. Over 700 people have been affected by our generosity, and many more will continue to be educated in the future.
The discipleship school has implemented 3 main programs. First, they have hosted events for the parents of children in the center, such as a couples dinner, parents retreat, and other community-centered events. Workshops have included teaching on topics like health, abortion, family, violence, God’s purpose for marriage and family, and vocational skills. Second, the staff members at the center have been monitoring and evaluating the families in their development. Finally, the center staff has been discipling, giving spiritual guidance and sharing the good news of Jesus with the parents.
The gospel has changed this community. Many parents have accepted Christ and have been baptized. Parents are taking a more active role in raising their children to know Jesus. The church community is growing and becoming more known in the area, and the church staff is committed to continuing to disciple and guide these new believers.
The Compassion project in Ecuador recently wrote us these words: “We are so grateful for your support of parents and children in Ecuador. Join us in celebrating what God has done to provide for the practical needs of this community, and most of all celebrating the ways that he has drawn them to a saving relationship with Jesus. Thank you for your partnership, and may God bless the ministry of Pantano Christian Church!”
This week, our high school team leaves for Ecuador to continue to support and engage in our partnership in Ecuador. Check out more about our Empower Ecuador project.
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This year, we are hosting our 11th Global Leadership Summit (GLS). Over the last 10 years, I’ve learned so much from the GLS and applied so much of what I learned in my own life and leadership as well as how we do things here at Pantano. I think it was 2011 when I was at one of my lowest points in leadership and there was a particular Summit talk that ended up helping me develop my life motto – “Faithfulness, not success!” The GLS is powerful, inspirational, practical and always has something that I take away and use. You don’t want to miss the 2019 Global Leadership Summit. The theme this year is “Everyone has influence.” Join over 400,000 people who want to do better with their influence at home, at work, at church, or in the community.
We host the GLS for three main reasons:
Everyone has influence! Everyone can improve how they influence! More importantly, God has commissioned us to bring his kingdom influence to our world. So, come sharpen your skills with us. Sign up now for the rock-bottom price.
Here are the details:
Date and Time: Thursday, August 8 & Friday, August 9, 8:30 AM – 4 PM (both days)
Pantano Christian Church – 1755 S Houghton Rd, Tucson, AZ
Desert Hills Lutheran Church – 2150 S Camino del Sol, Green Valley, AZ
Price: The Pantano rate is $89 until 6/25 (9:59 pm), then $119 thereafter. You’ll need a discount code to get this price. We can’t give this code out to the general public, so it will be posted before and after services or you can call the church office at 520.298.5395 and ask for the code.
The PARTNER rate through 4Tucson, or our other GLS Partners, is $109 until 6/25 (9:59 pm), then $139 thereafter.
Student/Faculty/Active Duty Military pricing is $89 (with no cutoff dates.)
Registration Link: Pantano GLS Registration Link
Check out the speaker lineup link here. See you at the Summit!
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God commanded a Sabbath for physical rest but also because we need to pause at least weekly to reflect back and see all that God has done. Otherwise, we just keep running ahead and forget all the big and small ways God has guided, provided, blessed, and protected. In our work and effort, we easily miss his amazing grace. Now, Jesus and his apostles made it clear that we don’t have to legalistically keep a Saturday or Sunday or any particular day as the Sabbath. But, the principle is still important to observe. And here’s why – we need to slow down, quiet our frenetic agenda, and be still so we can practice and experience gratitude. Gratitude is a vital path to experience the fullness of God’s grace.
So as I write, it’s the Monday after Easter. I put in over 40,000 steps, climbed over 30 floors, walked more than 18 miles on Saturday and Sunday and burned almost 7,000 calories in those two days! Gotta love the Fitbit! So it’s time to slow down and take some time to reflect. Here are a few of the many things I’m grateful for:
I’m grateful for the man baptized on Sunday who decided he had his last drink. And an older gentleman was baptized Sunday who came to our church deeply wounded by the ugliness of religion and found grace and a renewed relationship with God. And a man came up at the last minute to be baptized who had been fighting surrendering to Jesus for months. I’m deeply grateful for the 94 people baptized and for the life change and new beginnings for each precious soul loved by God and the people in their lives.
I’m grateful for all of you who invited people to join you at our Family Fun Fest and Easter services. I spent a good part of both days meeting the people who were your guests. That is one of the best parts of Easter for me. I love it! Thank you all for caring enough about people to invite them and to love them to Jesus.
It’s amazing that we gave away 50,000 Easter eggs filled with scripture verses, candy, and small toys. But, what blows me away are all of the folks who spent hours filling them and taping them shut! Folks also donated water, soda, candy, and all the supplies so we could make the Family Fun Fest a free event. Wow! And how great are the hundreds of people both Saturday and Sunday who volunteered and put in long hours to serve the 5000 people who came on our campus for the Family Fun Fest and the 6780 people who attended Easter services… Wow!
I’m so grateful for our staff and volunteers who put in long hours preparing, long before Saturday and Sunday. I’m grateful for our leaders who love people and will do what it takes to make every experience the best it can be and be done with excellence. On Saturday and Sunday, I was overwhelmed by the creative gifts exercised and used by so many of our artistic folks. I’m just so proud of our whole church. I love our church!
Don’t forget to join us and invite folks to hear our new teaching series that starts Sunday – Upcycle. In Upcycle, we’ll learn how to move past our past to start again with God. We’ll tap into the transforming power of God that makes beautiful things from the ruined, used, old, or worn out pieces of our lives.
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This Sunday we will celebrate that God raised Jesus from the dead. It is a big deal! The resurrection changes everything, in every way, for everyone who believes. There are two passages from the Bible that I love to reflect on at Easter time; each has a special meaning to me and I want to share them with you. The first is found in Matthew 28:5-6 (NIV) – The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Because Jesus is alive and because Jesus conquered death there is nothing we have to fear in the present, for he is with us, and nothing to fear at the end, for death is only a door to life that never ends. As God raised Jesus from the dead, we too share that same hope. If we really believe in a risen savior, fear no longer has to rule in our lives.
Last Sunday I read from Romans 10:9 (NIV) – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul describes our salvation as based on surrendering to Jesus and making him “large and in charge” of our lives as Lord. It is also based on the deeply-held belief that Jesus is alive. God raised him from the dead. He is our living Lord who guides us in our daily lives. But that hope is based on the fact Jesus is alive!
Join us Easter Sunday as we celebrate the risen Jesus. Services are at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm. Children’s ministry is at all services except the 7 am. We’ll have free breakfast and lunch between services. Our team has created an amazing service to celebrate the resurrection, including baptisms. We’ll have two baptisteries on stage this year!
On Saturday, from 8 am to 2 pm, we’ll have our Family Fun Fest on campus. It’s a FREE event that features family-friendly activities and a 50,000 Easter egg hunt. There will also be a petting zoo (the largest we’ve ever had at an event), an illusionist, train ride, crafts, games, inflatables, a slip ‘n slide (if you want to get wet, come prepared!) and more! It’s not too late to sign up to help us serve either Saturday and/or Sunday.
He has risen! Indeed! And that changes everything.
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I love Easter! It isn’t the trapping of the holiday that much interests me; I’m not an Easter egg or chocolate fan. I’ve never been much amused by the Easter bunny. But I love Easter because of the reason for the special day. Jesus rose from dead and he’s alive. That’s huge. That changes everything! That is THE basis of our faith. That is the basis of ALL hope! Put in the negative, if he’s still in the grave, then we are hopeless. But, we have a hope that death can’t shake; and that’s the message of our Easter services this year.
We’ll have four Easter Sunday services at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm. We’ll have children’s ministry at all services except the 7 am service (it’s hard to get kids up, in their Easter best and arrive to service that early!). Our middle school and high school students will be with their families at all four adult services.
May I ask you a huge favor? Given the history I’ve followed for years, I can pretty much predict that the 9 am and 11 am services will be full. If you can, would you please consider attending the 7 am or 1 pm services? You’ll have a much easier time finding a seat and parking at those services, which also makes room for our guests at 9 am and 11 am. Thank you in advance.
We’ll be having baptisms at all four services. This year, we are upgrading that experience. We are going to have two baptisteries on stage. It will be amazing! The view and video will be so much better. If you or your friends or family have been thinking about being baptized, this will be a great day to make your promise to follow the living Jesus.
We’ll continue our tradition of a free Easter breakfast and lunch. We’ll serve pancakes and sausage for breakfast between the morning services (8 – 9 am, 10 – 11 am) and free hot dogs and chips for lunch (12 – 1 pm). The free meals and beverages will be available in the outdoor covered court area.
And, don’t miss our annual Family Fun Fest (formerly called the New Life Celebration). We are extending the hours from 8 am – 2 pm and have increased the fun things to do as well. We’ve added a water “slip and slide,” expanded the petting zoo, and more.
The Family Fun Fest and Easter Sunday service are great events to invite your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to attend with you. We have invitation cards available at Guest Services.
Jesus is risen…indeed! And our living Savior is THE game changer! Join us in celebrating the most important event that ever happened!
Hospitality! It’s an interesting word. There are many words related such as hospital, hospice, host, hotel, and hostel. They all come from the Latin root word “hospes” which means host, guest or stranger. The core idea is welcoming a stranger and offering food, shelter, and safety.
There are many scriptures that encourage hospitality like Romans 12:13b – Practice hospitality. 1 Peter 4:9 – Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Then there’s the fascinating instruction found in Hebrews 13:2 – Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. When this was written some 2000 years ago, there were few motels and restaurants. So when people traveled, they relied on others, often strangers, to provide food and housing.
Let’s dig a bit deeper. Who is a stranger? It’s someone you don’t know, for sure. 2000 years ago, they were from somewhere other than your village and even from a different culture and background. The stranger was usually different!
In our day, a stranger can be someone we simply don’t know. But they could be someone very different from us. They may be “strange” to us because they are from a different racial, cultural, economic, political, religious or educational background. Why would we be guided by the Bible to open our lives to someone very different from us? Could it be that as we open ourselves to those who are different, God might be teaching us how to love our neighbor who is different? Could it be the Spirit might be opening us up to ideas, values, and insights that are “foreign” to us? Maybe the practice of true hospitality could help us learn to be open to others and welcome differences, welcome the dreams of others, be hospitable and generous with grace, and be a host to something surprising that God has for us and our “guests.” We don’t have to agree with or even like all that a stranger brings, but we can learn to welcome them and expand our perspectives.
Did you catch the end of Hebrews 13:2 – some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. I believe in literal angelic beings and I’ve assumed this passage was asking me to entertain anyone because the guest just might be an actual angel. However, could there be a second meaning to entertaining angels we are unaware of? The word “angel” means messenger and that’s the role of some angels like Gabriel. Could Hebrews 13:2 suggest that these “strangers” could be real human beings who bring us a message from God? Could this different kind of person we welcome into our lives open a door of understanding? Maybe if we intentionally connected with the stranger, someone different from us, we might learn something new about ourselves, about God and about faith and grace that we would never learn anywhere else. Just maybe….
Here’s a chance to enter the world of someone different. Our mission partner, Heartbeat for Africa is having a short-term trip to West Africa on July 15 -27, 2019. There’s an information meeting THIS Sunday (3/17) at 10:15 am in Discover (room 2 off the courtyard). Go and check out this opportunity to show hospitality to a stranger and see what God might do!
I am so proud of our church. Pantano is a generous church! Literally, a thousand of us at Pantano serve in some way at our church, in our community or globally over the course of the year. We couldn’t do what we do and make the difference we are making without you. THANK YOU!
As a church, we give away about half a million dollars every year to local and global organizations and missions. These organizations have been vetted as trustworthy and are making a difference in their communities. And, that dollar amount doesn’t include the service time we provide. THANK YOU for making that possible.
Christmas Eve Offering – The Center of Opportunity
Every year we give our Christmas Eve offering away. Sometimes we’ve given that to international projects and sometimes we’ve given it locally. Often we’ve split it between groups. This year, I’m excited to announce that our Christmas Eve offering will go to the Center of Opportunity. This is a one-stop center run by the Gospel Rescue Mission. A generous family in Tucson bought the old “Holidome” (the Holiday Inn Conference Center on Park, south of Ajo), and gave it to the Gospel Rescue Mission for $1 a year for 99 years!
Hoping to open in the Spring of 2019, the Center of Opportunity will provide about 300 emergency beds and over 30 Christian social service and government agencies will be serving our homeless population in Tucson in this one location. These agencies will help the homeless move toward self-sufficiency by providing emergency housing and meals, job training and placement, health and dental services, government and veteran assistance and so much more. And, the Gospel Rescue Mission will make sure that each person is introduced to Jesus and will disciple those who are ready to follow him.
Year-End Giving – Room for More
It is normal for folks to evaluate their giving as we come to the end of the year. If you are planning to make a year-end gift, please focus your giving toward our Room for More project. We are just getting started with construction for the Student Union to provide room for our students and children. We must make Room for More. We took out a construction loan to get started, but I’d like to pay off the entire cost by the time we occupy in the spring of 2019. That will only be possible if we all give generously and sacrificially.
How To Give
The easiest way to give is to give online. You can give your regular gifts as well as your Christmas Eve offering and Room for More giving online – https://pantano.church/give/. Or, you can use our envelopes (they have a place to mark regular giving or Room for More) or use the special green Christmas Eve offering envelope that will be in the seat backs on Christmas Eve. Another option is to have your gift sent from your checking account; call us if you have questions and need help – 520.298.5395. THANK YOU again and in advance for your amazing generosity, which allows us to make a difference in the lives of people both now and for eternity.
Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed so at Pantano we are officially entering our Christmas season! Here’s an overview of what we have planned for Christmas this year. This Sunday we’ll start our three-week Christmas series called Bring Christmas Home. And that just kicks things off!
December Nights are back and we’ve expanded it one night and added some new things to make it even better. The event is free (except for the hayrides and food for purchase). We are adding a new live “Road to Bethlehem” experience. And of course, you’ll be able to roast marshmallows, sing Christmas carols on a horse-drawn carriage, get your free family Christmas portrait (those are often such a pain to schedule…right?!), or join us for a snowball fight. There will be crafts, cookie decorating and a whole lot more including live entertainment.
This year we’ll have the event on Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30-8:30PM on December 7, 8 and 14, 15.
Go to mypantano.church to sign up to serve as we still need volunteers and/or some of the supplies so we can keep this a free event. And, you can sign up and pay for hayride tickets. Just click here for all things December Nights! Don’t forget to invite family and friends to join you!
Serve Our City – December 23rd
I’m so excited about how we are going to bring Christmas home to our city in a unique way this year; on Sunday, December 23rd, instead of having our usual church services on our campus, we are going to “be” the church by going out and serving our community and neighborhoods. We’ll be doing some work projects (cleaning, painting, etc.) at both the new Gospel Rescue Mission Center of Opportunity and GAP Ministries. We’ll also have a variety of other ways you, your family (and yes, kids too!) and friends or small group can serve. We’ll also have a few projects on our campus if you are unable to drive to another location. We’ll have special Serve Our City t-shirts for anyone who signs up. You can sign up at mypantano.church. We’ll be talking about this all of December and more information will be coming soon. Plan to use that Sunday morning to bring the spirit of Christmas to your community.
Christmas Eve Services – December 24th
As you’ve come to expect, we put on a terrific one-hour Christmas Eve service for the whole family with a short, clear gospel message, singing, and candle lighting. This year we’ll have 4 services at 1, 3, 5, and 7PM. We’ll have children’s programming available for children up to 6 years of age. Invite others to join you at this great event!
Christmas Eve Offering
Our annual Christmas Eve offering will go in its entirety to support the new Center of Opportunity (4550 S. Palo Verde – south of Ajo Way); it will be a full service, one-stop location for those who are homeless or in crisis. The organization has been given the old Holiday Inn conference center that has over 300 rooms and a lot of space for all the critical services necessary to help the homeless become self-sufficient. We are excited to actually serve there for our Serve Our City Sunday and provide funds to help them convert the rooms and spaces to serve the homeless in our city. You can give online or at the service.
We hope you are able to join us at one or all of our Christmas season events, as we “Bring Christmas Home” this December!
Tucson – 5th Poorest City in America
I’m sure you’ve heard this by now, but Tucson is listed as one of the poorest metropolitan areas in the United States. That’s not the kind of notoriety we want. About 25% of our city is identified as living below the poverty rate. As Christians, we can’t just stop here and say, “Wow, that’s too bad!” and do nothing.
What the Bible Says About Poverty
Some Christians are tempted to quote our Savior at this point; after all, Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you…” (John 12:8). Christians will causally take this to mean that Jesus said poverty can’t be overcome, so don’t bother. Actually, Jesus is saying the opposite; He’s quoting Deuteronomy 15:11. Jesus would often quote a part of an Old Testament text, knowing that his hearers would not only know the whole verse but the key ideas of the section of scripture around what was quoted. There is a “therefore” after what Jesus quoted; that “therefore” is how we are to respond to the poor around us.
Here’s the full text of Deut. 15:11 – There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Then, go back to verse 4 of the same chapter – However, there need be no poor people among you! In fact, read the whole text of Deuteronomy 15:7-11 which states that it was God’s plan that generous, God-fearing people would respond to the poor. Flat out, the Bible commands that we be generous to the poor. Do an internet search and you’ll discover an overwhelming amount of Bible verses on helping the poor and needy (the words poor or poverty occur 446 times). So, what can we do?
Cost of Poverty Experience
Christians in Tucson through 4Tucson are committed to reducing poverty in our city. David Thoresen and J. Michael Davis on our staff are working with the Poverty Reduction Task Force of 4Tucson. Click here to read more about their work. The task force is promoting a Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) simulation here at Pantano on Saturday, November 10, from 9am to 12pm. This is an opportunity where you’ll experience what it means to live below the poverty line. This will be eye opening! You don’t want to miss this. It’s a free event and you can register here.
Faith In Action
This Sunday, September 23, is our next Faith in Action event. After each of our three services, you’ll have an opportunity to see how you can be generous with your time, skills, effort and money to reduce poverty as you put your faith into action. We’ll have a number of our ministry partners whose focus is to make a difference in the lives of those who live in poverty near and far away. You can check out the local ministries like Haven Totes, Diaper Bank, Gospel Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity, Care Portal, and Interfaith Community Services. And, you can make a difference for a child in poverty through our work in Ecuador with Compassion International. Go to the Café after services on Sunday to see how you can do what God commanded when he said: Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to (Deut. 15:10).
Please join us in one of the various ways we can truly make a difference in our city and the world!