The Family Connections team is on the road supporting families all across the United States and Canada with encouragement, resources, inspiration and connection with other like-minded families. The fellowship with families who gather their family around the Word of God is so special. Overall we have had more attending this year than the previous years. God has blessed with safety on the nearly 10,000 miles traveled thus far. While looking forward to an upcoming Family Connection, one dad wrote, “My favorite thing is to hear of facilitating Family Connections. We come and go, but the connections we facilitate are ongoing.” Overall, in the first 18 meetings that we have conducted, we have had 781 people attend.
Typically, our evening meetings have started by listening to Rick Warner share stories of God’s provision during his family’s twenty years of mission work in the rustic country of Mongolia. Gabriel Cleator has shared on the power of prayer to open blind eyes so that people can see their need for salvation. A little season of prayer immediately follows that message. David Waller concludes the evening with a message on the importance of God’s grace in the life of believers.
Big Sandy, Texas
The first Family Connection took place in Big Sandy, Texas on June 25. IBLP and ALERT Staff families gathered along with a few local families to take in the messages, children’s programs and rich fellowship. Even though many of the messages have been refined since the first time they were shared, we were able to record them and they have been made available by DVD. However, we have been sharing them live at almost all of the Family Connections thus far.
Los Angeles, California
Shortly after the first Family Connections, we left for the West Coast Conference in Sacramento. Because that Conference was held during the week, we left Texas a few days early so we could stop in Los Angeles for an all-day Saturday meeting kindly hosted by an Asian church. A number of families drove more than an hour to be there. A full-fledged Children’s Institute and ALERT Cadet Encounter productively engaged the children with object lessons, stories and crafts while parents participated in the main sessions. So many shared deep appreciation for our willingness to share.
Window Rock, Arizona
This spring, a group of Navajo Indians and the missionaries who have been reaching out to them took a long road trip to the Big Sandy Family Conference. They requested that we visit if we were ever coming through their area. Being only a half hour off route on our return from Sacramento, we chose to visit them on Sunday evening. A sweet group of believers gathered to hear the Word of God preached. The children’s program became incorporated into the main service, and all present appeared to enjoy and benefit from it.
This year, the Lord opened the door for us to have our Family Connection hosted at a church in Las Colinas. The pastoral team is composed of three generations of the same family all working together. It was refreshing to be so well supported as we work to help families center their lives on the Word of God. The pastor has been involved in IBLP for many years and graciously opened their doors to the Family Connections.
In Houston, we were blessed to meet at another church where several in pastoral leadership have had years of involvement with the IBLP ministry. Several faithful families gathered to reconnect. One family found this Family Connection online and attended, thinking it was part of the state homeschool convention. However, they were thrilled to be there and grateful for the messages.
We enjoyed a wonderful Family Connection at the International Ministerial Institute. One of the young men traveling on the team this year had his nine siblings join him for the evening, having driven several hours to attend. Another family in attendance had just gone through a really rough week and said that the messages were just what they needed.
A year and a half ago, a father of six children heard and understood the Gospel and received Christ as his Savior. Just a week or so before our Family Connection team arrived in Phoenix, this father searched for Christian family conferences in his area. He eventually found the event that was only a mile or so away from where he lived. He brought his whole family. His three older daughters were attending public middle and high schools and were not so excited about their dad’s suggestion to homeschool. Thanks to the discipleship of the host family, they now are not only using Embassy Media, but they also plan to begin homeschooling and have made plans to attend the Family Conference in Big Sandy next year.
San Diego, California
A young pastor from the Russian Community had attended the Sacramento Conference in the past several years. He graciously arranged for our team to have an all-day Family Connection at a church facility.
San Jose, California
A church in the San Jose area graciously hosted us again this year. Many of the families travel up to Sacramento for the Conference, so it was special for us to be in their own home church. They not only asked us to share a Family Connection in the afternoon, but also to preach at their Sunday morning service. This necessitated a drive through the night, arriving at the church at around 3 a.m. God gave safety and a very good drive. Several were able to sleep, even though we were en route most of the night.
In Portland, a Romanian family kindly hosted us in their beautiful home in the country. Being from the Romanian Christian community, they invited many of their friends, along with a number of local ATI families, to join us for the evening. Some of the families have been involved for years. The evening started with an intense game of soccer, which helped break the ice and give the young people a good way to get some energy out before listening to the evening’s sessions. Several stayed to past 11 p.m., visiting and fellowshipping.
In the Seattle area, our host family enthusiastically connected us with Florence DeShazer, in a local retirement home. She graciously told us the story of her husband, Jacob DeShazer, who was part of the Doolittle raid and was in a Japanese POW camp for more than three years. She told of the power of God’s love and forgiveness that was demonstrated through their return to serve and minister to the ones who tortured him. Following our visit with Mrs. DeShazer, we conducted a meeting in a local community center that was very well attended.
Just south of the Canadian border, we arrived in a quaint little town bustling with a farmers’ market and streets lined with little shops. We met in the community center, and several of the families from the area joined us for a very special evening of food and fellowship.
Sorrento, BC, Canada
Another family kindly opened their home and ministry center to several families who traveled quite some distance for the Saturday afternoon meetings. Following the meeting, we were planning on eating outdoors when a sudden storm bringing rain and hail pounded the tents we planned on using. We opted to eat inside. The following morning, we gathered for a church service, where we again shared a message and singing. What a blessing to be with believers who love the Lord and are serving Him.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
In Idaho, our host family very thoughtfully arranged for the Family Connection to be held in their wildlife museum. Families gathered upstairs while the ALERT Cadet Encounter went down stairs to shoot bow and arrow. The children went to the beautiful park next door for stories and crafts that corresponded with what the parents were learning about the power of prayer.
More than 70 people packed into the living room of a family’s farmhouse situated in the middle of sugar-beet fields. Several families who wanted to come to Family Conferences for years, but have been unable to come due to finances, were overjoyed to come to the Family Connection. Two of the families had recently moved to the area and were thrilled to meet like-minded believers.
A family very graciously invited a number of their friends and family to join us for an evening of preaching and fellowship. Many in this host family had traveled a great distance for a family reunion the following day, but arrived in time to join us for the evening Family Connection. God turned the hearts of several neighborhood young people (who were there by their parents’ choice) and gave them a real interest in the things of the Lord. We were so blessed to see this change of heart.
We also had the privilege of seeing a moose at the nearby state park.
This year, we conducted the Family Connection meeting in a new location that was found for us by an ATI family. They enthusiastically hosted us, even though they had moved to a new home just one month before. One family who came to the meeting told us that the Family Connections meeting was the highlight of their year. They also mentioned that they had not yet made it to a Family Conference, but that they would gather together in the evenings to watch Embassy Media and ATI Family Weekly videos as a family. Another lady who attended had served at IBLP Headquarters on staff twenty years prior and was thrilled to be reconnected.
We met with two families, one of which drove three hours to attend. The family even stayed to fellowship well past 11 p.m., even though they had a long drive home, and the father of the family had to be at work early in the morning.
Just outside of Lebanon, Kansas, stands a monument that marks the geographical center of the United States of America.
Thank you for standing with us in prayer as we have traveled all of these miles. God has been so good to us, and we have been so blessed by each person who has attended, hosted, and supported us in prayer.
The Family Connections Team
It would be great to see you at a local Family Connection. Register for a free Family Connection near you. Here are some upcoming Family Connections meetings locations and dates:
Buffalo (Clarence Center), NY Tuesday Sept. 6
Toronto, ON Wednesday Sept. 7
Lyndeborough, NH Thursday Sept. 8
Hershey, PA Saturday Sept. 10
Dickerson, MD Monday Sept. 12
Culpeper, VA Tuesday Sept. 13
Charlotte (Waxhaw), NC Thursday Sept. 15
Toccoa, GA Saturday Sept. 17
Hueytown, AL Monday Sept. 19
Magnolia, MS Tuesday Sept. 20
Miami, FL Thursday Sept. 22
Orlando FL Saturday Sept. 24