Presenting to the Church of _____ committee concerning:
Rest Ministries and HopeKeepers Chronic Illness/Pain Support Group
Background of Rest Ministries
Rest Ministries, Inc. is a non-profit Christian organization that serves people who live with chronic illness or pain by providing spiritual, emotional and practical support. They are based in San Diego, CA, founded in 1997, by Lisa Copen, who lives with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Lisa has been active in illness outreach since she began this ministry at the age of 27 in a variety of ways including serving on the Board of Directors of the Christian Council on Persons with Disabilities. Rest Ministries is an affiliate of Joni and Friends, the international disability outreach of Joni Eareckson Tada.
One of Rest Ministries’ programs is HopeKeepers–a small group Bible study environment within the church body and communities. Over 250 groups are currently active in the U.S. as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. HopeKeepers is what I want to address with you.
The following is Rest Ministries/HopeKeepers purpose and statement of faith:
Rest Ministries Purpose Statement
Rest Ministries, Inc. is a non-profit Christian organization that exists to serve people who live with chronic illness or pain, by providing spiritual, emotional, relational and practical support. Rest Ministries equips churches in the United States to minister to and with the chronically ill.
Rest Ministries Statement of Faith
• God is the creator and the ruler of the universe. There is only one, true holy God. He eternally exists in three personalities: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God.
• Jesus Christ is the Son of God. His is co-equal with the Father (God). Jesus livedon earth by a miraculous conception and virgin birth. He lived a sinless human life and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on a cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He ascended to Heaven’s glory and will return again to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
• The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son of God. He is present in the world to make people aware of their need of Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. The Christian seeks to live under His control daily.
• The sole basis for our belief is the Bible. The Bible is God’s word to all people. It was written by human authors under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, the Scriptures are infallible and inerrant in the original manuscripts. They are the final authority on all matters of faith and practice.
Bcause of the sin of Adam, all have sinned and are separated from God. The result is eternal death and separation from God. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, however, we have the gift from God to all people, Salvation. We can never make up for our sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can people be saved from sin’s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith.
Rest Ministries Viewpoint on Healing
• We believe that God can and does heal in our current day. We also believe, however, that God offers strength in our weakness and, at times, allows us to grow spiritually, although not always comfortably, by allowing the “thorns” into our lives, (2 Cor. 12:9).
• We believe that God can heal despite our lack of faith, if it is his will, therefore, we are not able to meet a formula of “praying harder,” and be guaranteed an outcome of healing (Mark 6:5,6). Illness is not necessary a sign that we have done something wrong (John 9:3) nor that we have “hidden sin” in our lives, (John5:14).
• We caution against worshiping “the idea of healing” rather than God, (Exodus 20:3). Although we encourage people to pray for God’s healing, we also comfort them in their pain; as we believe that we are called to comfort others in their pain, as God has comforted us in our own (2 Cor. 1:3-5), even when we are still living with pain in our own.
To my knowledge pastor __(name)___there are no support groups like this in ___(city)___ that deal with this topic of ministry (chronic illness) with a Christian perspective, despite the fact that there is an abundance of other Christian 12-step programs or support programs for everything from drug and alcohol abuse, to weight loss and divorce recovery.
___(person in the church)____ has been very helpful to me with suggestions and brain storming about the HopeKeepers support group idea.
I would like to see the_______Church sponsor and keep me accountable to this HopeKeepers support
group for the community of __________________.
I would like to see the HopeKeepers support group go for a year, then hopefully the HopeKeepers group will be able to stand on its own without the church’s financial support. However I would ask that the church still pray on a regular basis for HopeKeepers.
I have given some thought on maybe the members of this group donating $ 1.00 – 2.00 for drinks such as tea or coffee and cookies maybe. These members would also contribute $ 6.50 when given a study book, this would refund the _________ and possibly, I hope, go into a HopeKeepers account.
I would also like to see a board of 3 or 4 people residing over the HopeKeepers group in the valley somethinglike: mysefl; co-leader; pastor; and ______
I suggest this board would meet once a month or as needed.
I would like to see HopeKeepers attract people from the community that have disabilities and also
people without disabilities that have chronic illness and/or pain by flyers and word of mouth. Also I would like to put an ad in our local paper, ________, in the __________ section, which has no charge.These are some places that we could post flyers:
Hospital and community center
Domestic violence shelter
Others the church can think of (for example, local fitness centers, physical therapist’s offices, chiropractics offices, doctors offices, dentists, etc.)
Though some of the above places are of risky populations I would like to see HopeKeepers a positive
group focusing on Christ for their help, thus hopefully avoiding PITY PARTY gatherings.
HopeKeepers would meet 1 or 2 times per month, for 2 hours at a time.
Meetings containing something like:
Sharing in Christ
Bible study from our HopeKeepers curriculum
Speakers now and then
HopeKeepers I am thinking would meet on Saturdays, unless the church covering board as a better idea. I have thought about my transportation issues with myself being confined to this wheelchair (for a short time) and how I would get to and from meetings in the winter. This would and is my biggest obstacle in starting HopeKeepers.
I would like some feedback on this issue. I’m proposing the church provide ransportation to pick people up and drop them off after the meeting, if they are unable to make the meeting on their own.I’m currently looking for a volunteer that could help me with preparing coffee, etc. and possibly this could be the same person that helps with transportation.
Although holding the meeting somewhere is still up in the air, I am confidant that God will open a meeting place.
Prepare coffee, tea and cookies
Can members smoke if held at the youth building or life church?
What about accessible bathrooms: Is the church’s bathroom big enough or can a grab-bar be installed?
Program Start up Costs
HopeKeepers Start Up Kit will cost $____ plus $_____ shipping and handling fee.
This includes but is not limited to:
Training materials which include a HopeKeepers binder filled with materials such as how to plan a meeting, ice breakers, articles, drama sketches, illness descriptions, newsletter articles for reprint, etc.
Audio presentation of pastoral training, CD-Rom or resources, etc.
5 bible study books costing $6.50 each which the members will reimburse the church
Books on how to reach out to others who are hurting, how to lead small groups, a devotional book, and a Bible study Why Can’t I Make People Understand.
A checklist of various types of outreach, HopeKeepers poster, laminated resource sheet
I would also like to see the HopeKeepers board give out a starter folder with:
A notebook to take notes
A bible study (HopeKeepers book)
A meeting rules sheet
This first year the church will hopefully cover the start up costs for stuff like coffee, tea, sugar, paper cups and plates also napkins for the cookies.This would probably be around $40/month. I am proposing a total yearly budget of $800 for this first year based on a meeting size of 8-12 people. (This does not include possible transportation costs of gas).
Meeting structure will go near to this if the board doesn’t object
Open with prayer asking God to open the minds and hearts of the people who are there
Go over the meeting rules each time we meet
Share feeling and struggles with each other
Go over bible study and share what you have learned Pass the offering basket for costs of the refreshments going back to the church hopefully in a HopeKeepers account
Close the class by prayer
I would also like for our group to take on various small “projects” to help us reach out to others who are hurting. This could come as a “care package” from the group, a card signed by all of us, providing holiday encouragement and cheer, etc.