Why AFAC Farmer’s Market Runs?

       So, why do we band together each Sunday afternoon in the summer to pick up the typically one ton (!) of leftover produce from the Columbia Pike Farmer’s Market, taking it back to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) for repackaging?

We do it for two simple reasons:

1.                  It’s a way to practice Jesus’ top two commands:  love God and love your neighbor.  Those two active loves sum up, Jesus says, the basic gist of the whole Old Testament law.  So in a sense, when we do the work of collecting crates of cauliflower, cucumbers, cantaloupes, etc., and haul them back to the warehouse, we are in a way loving our neighbors just like God’s people were asked to do back in the day.  Have you ever read passages like this one in Leviticus 19 (9 & 10)?  “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.”  I love that passage—God has always been into caring for the underdog in very concrete ways.  And while most of us don’t have land or harvests, we can love our neighbors by practicing—in tandem with very generous merchants–a little modern day gleaning equivalent.  These leftover veggies help feed about 1600 families each week.

2.                  It’s a way to take Restoration into our larger community.  A lot of us who are already followers of Jesus want to see our friends come to church. “Oh, if my friends could just hear so and so preach” or “I think they’d love our music” or “If they could just see how cool our kids program is”….  But many of our friends and neighbors won’t naturally wander into a church building on Sundays.  So, why not take the church, or at least a small group of friends from the body of Christ, into the community?  That’s what we do when we band together for 3 hours on Sunday afternoon in South Arlington.  With a handful of Restoration folks (and hopefully some non Restoration friends as well), we go—trusting that Jesus’ presence goes with us, showing up in and through our interactions, relationships, conversations.  While we don’t always know how it happens, we trust that He’s revealing himself through us when we, so to speak, take “church” to the streets (or to the corner of Columbia Pike & Walter Reed, and then to the warehouse down on Nelson Street).  Jesus says he’ll be there when we are there, together, in his name.  We believe him.

So, if either of these reasons intrigues you, or if you just want to have fun doing some sweaty, tangible work (nice switch in this DC world of ideas and paper pushing!), give Melody Jones (melody.parry@gmail.com) or Lauren Odderstol (lodderstol@gmail.com) a shout.  We’ll be doing it June 30th – August 18th, Sundays from 12:15-3:30, and we’d love for you (and your kids from age 5 up if you have them and will watch them!) to join us.  It is a good thing.

Sign up directly here!

Connally Gilliam

From our Cairo Correspondent

Working in Cairo this week, I got back to my hotel room late Tuesday evening, I found a large bouquet of flowers and a bowl of fruit, and wondered why the hotel had given me that? The card that came with the flowers told a different story: it was a welcome gift from the Stephen’s Children ministry: I had arranged to meet one of them on Friday, to hand over the check representing Restoration’s Easter collection. I thought of King David when three of his warriors fought their way into Bethlehem to fetch him some water (2 Samuel 23), and David was awestruck by the generous spirit of these men, putting themselves at risk to bless David. Perhaps not quite the right analogy, but such a generous gift from a ministry working with the poor – I almost cried, and felt very humbled!

Today, I had the privilege of visiting of the many ‘garbage cities’ on the outskirts of Cairo– of the 90 or so locations where the Stephen’s Children ministry runs schools for the poorest of the poor. This ‘city’, home to perhaps 900 people – predominantly Christians – is in a dusty, stony hollow away from the road. Nothing grows there – there is no soil. None of the buildings has more than one level: the materials they are made from would not really support more. There is no electricity. Running water was made available about a year ago (this has attracted more people to move in). In the school room perhaps 40 girls aged 6 to 15  sat in rows on benches, learning the alphabet with great excitement. Nearby, I visited a study group for boys. Half a dozen squatted in the shade of a rusty corrugated iron gate as myriad flies buzzed around, and listened to the story of the cripple who had sat by the pool for years, waiting for a miracleThe back yard was buried in rubbish – plastic bags mostly, which are burned down to produce a hard black mass that can be sold for recycling (an adult and four children scavenging can earn perhaps $1.50 a day doing this).

Stephen’s Children employs around 1,500 staff to run kindergartens, and now one school, for some 30,000 children, visiting them weekly in their homes to support a holistic ministry of education, teaching on basic health and hygiene, and the bible. Many of the children, and some of their parents, are not officially registered, through ignorance and discrimination.

This was not a miserable place to visit. The children were happy as they learned. A little girl smiled broadly as the teacher washed her feet (this is done to teach hygiene, and to check for cuts and infections in little feet that at best have flip-flops to wear). Adults were welcoming. The ‘motto’ of the ministry is: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (phil 4:13). The children and their families are being given hope, not just once or in theory, but day by day, week by week, year after year. I am lost for words, but full of admiration, and very blessed to have seen God at work through his people in such a way.

Simon G.

From Lies to Light – New ID Small Group

I like to think I can tell lies from truth, but it is surprisingly difficult at times. The hardest lies to decipher are often the one that swarm around inside of our heads, trapping us in dark places and keeping us away from the light of truth.

On April 24 I will start leading New ID, a six week course with teachings, testimonies, discussion groups and prayer for anyone struggling with disordered eating. As I prepare, old lies come to mind. I went through New ID at my church in Charlotte, NC in 2007 after an almost 10 year battle with disordered eating. I came SO close to not attending the course. “Surely you don’t struggle with food THAT much, Christie,” I told myself.  “You have been so much better this week! I bet that means you don’t need help after all.” Another lie.

These lies I told myself almost kept me from truth and freedom. Almost.

Instead, by God’s grace, I went through the course, fought the battle of recovery and have experienced freedom in Christ I never dreamt possible. I was brought out of captivity and am now called to help the many other men and women that struggle in those chains I wore for far too long.

Restoration is a place where broken people are being made whole. I love that our church is not afraid of getting our hands dirty, being honest with ourselves and each other and loving each other deeply throughout the process. Being involved in a small group keeps us out of isolation and in the light.

Please pray that those in our church body currently experiencing bondage to food and weight would step into the light of truth and find their true identity in Christ.

To learn more about New ID email me christine.dondero@gmail.com at  or read my blog.

And register for the small group  TODAY! It’s number 14 in the SG list .

In His Marvelous Light,




Love Arlington Small Group

While driving to church recently, my wife Melody and I were talking about how we explore and align our interests in serving our local community. The Lord responded the instant we walked into RAC’s door. We were handed the official “RAC Outreach Guide” outlining the incredible work underway by our church body, and we listened to a sermon about Jesus declaring his ministry to the marginalized.

RAC’s active support and prayer for these diverse outreach initiatives has built our church’s institutional wisdom in how to reveal Christ to the world, and has created a greater awareness of the needs of our community. We are all generally aware that Arlington has good job availability, solid schools, and an appealing environment. However, Arlington is also a community to the homeless, trafficked women and immigrants, under loved children, and the unemployed.

The Love Arlington Small Group will kick off this spring to explore and determine where Jesus is directing us to serve.

We will meet weekly and engage with people on the margins of society in order to develop relationships. Our endeavors will range from the pedestrian to the adventuresome, but will always be guided by a spirit of service. We expect to share more information at services over the next few weeks – but if you are already interested please email me or Liz.

Brent Jones

Do you know where you fit?

Fitting into a new role/job/neighborhood/town/friendship group is always a bit awkward – you see a spot that looks like your shape and you wriggle your way into it and adjust and eventually it gets more comfortable – you hope! In some ways its easy to see where I ‘fit’, I’m on day 22 of being on Restoration staff and I look after a whole bunch of stuff and get to think about things and spend time with people…. And I love it!  But in other ways I’m still finding that comfy spot.

Our prayer is that you would know where you fit at Restoration.

We hope you fit…

…in a small group. They are all different – but each one should challenge you and encouraged you to look at Jesus and look more like Jesus. Find a place to grow your vision.

… in our broader community. Why not use the Outreach Guide 2013 to find something that intrigues you? Find a place to use your passions, your gifts.

…in  our rhythm of prayer. We have tons of opportunities to pray as a church: on Sundays, in small groups, and with after-service prayer… Find a place to listen to the Holy Spirit, to see God more clearly, to love Him more.

…in friendships. Whether by coming to a happy hour or going on a retreat or grabbing a snack after church and meeting someone new or reconnecting with someone you know already. Keep an eye on the Worship Guide, seize opportunities, ask God to show you people through his eyes.…. Find a place to have fun, to play and to grow your joy.

If you don’t know where you fit – why not get in touch and we can chat?


Caroling PLUS

During Advent we, as the Restoration community, have a number of opportunities  to meet other people in our neighborhood.

Last Saturday, for example, a number of folk helped with the Casa Chirilagua Christmas party: a splendid time of laughter and joy with around 200 people enjoying the fun.

And then, last night a small group of Restoration people went to serve dinner at the A-SPAN winter shelter (Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network). They were able to spend some time chatting and serving dinner to folk they don’t often get a chance to spend time with: to understand a little bit more what it is like to be homeless over Christmas in Arlington, and to reflect on what Jesus would see and say to them.

This coming Sunday (12/16/12), at 6.45pm we have the opportunity to visit Sunrise Senior Living Community on Glebe Road. Matt Hoppe will lead us as we sing carols, chat and take ‘joy boxes’ which our Restoration kids have made for the residents.

This is an opportunity for you to join in – to meet someone new and to sing carols about the baby whose birth changed everything. Why not set aside an hour from your normal Sunday evening schedule and come along?

There are so many people whose stories we will never know – but how deeply joy-making it will be to know perhaps one more by Sunday night. Come and listen as you sing: meet at church after the 5pm to carpool, or at 6.45pm at Sunrise, 2000 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA 22207. You will be most welcome!

Liz Gray


Two nations, two challenges, two women, one gospel.

 This coming Tuesday November 20th….

….come and hear about God’s exciting work among students in the lands of Turkey and Armenia, from 7:30 pm – 8:45 pm at Restoration.

Lilit Avayan and Nayri O. will share about their lives and ministries in these lands. Lilit Avayan is the current country Director in Armenia for International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES)/Intervarsity and is in the states on a “speaking tour” visiting several cities. Nayri O. lives in the DC area and has lived in both Turkey and Armenia. She currently works for Barnabas Ministries and has previously served as the IFES country director for both Turkey and Armenia.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to learn about the hopes and difficulties in these historic lands.




Remember learning to speak English?

Do you remember learning to speak English?

For some, its a more recent accomplishment than for others. (And if you are studying for GREs its very much an ongoing process!) There are many of our neighbors here in north Arlington who could use some help in the ‘English department’ and that is where we come in! Restoration has started a English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) ministry and is partnering with a neighborhood church, Fe Y Alabanza on Quebec Street to provide Conversation Partners.

What is a Conversation Partner?

Restoration volunteers will be matched up with a member (or married couple) of Fe Y Alabanza to simply talk and get to know one another with improved Emglish as a by-product. And if you want to improve your Spanish, the learning would be two-way! Suggested structure and topics would be provided. The expectation is that partners will meet once a week in a public place (coffee shop, library) for about one hour at a time convenient for both. Our plan is to begin the program the first week of November and end just before Easter.

How can I learn more?

Join us Tuesday, October 23 at 7:30 at the home of Susie and Mitch Wallin (5910 N. 19th St) for information. Please come even if you are unsure about volunteering. If you can’t make the meeting, please let us know and we can provide info and training individually. RSVP: crhs_dc@hotmail.com

Discipling Kids

This Sunday marks the kick-off of small groups — kids’ small groups, that is!

Did you know that over 100 kids are discipled each week as they meet in their small groups on Sundays to do all that the “grown ups” do in their small groups?  They read the Scriptures, they ask the tough questions, they pray with and for one another, they grow in community and friendship with their peers, and, every now and then they do cool stuff like make a battery out of lemons or create an origami heart or play “Jonah, Jonah, Whale”.  And, they do all of this under the leadership of nearly 30 adults in our congregation who invest in “their kids” on a weekly basis, allowing kids’ small group leaders to witness lives that are transformed — the kids’ and their own.

Leading kids really is a win-win situation.  Our leaders get to do a slightly more in-depth study each week as they prepare to present the lesson.  They get to pray for their kids.  They get to see “ah-ha!” moments in the lives of kids.  They get to laugh and be challenged and sometimes be graced by the wisdom of kids who can distill the truths of the Bible in ways that blow my mind. As our leaders shepherd our kids, they, too, are cared for by me.  (It’s one of the highlights of my job!)

Is God calling you to disciple our kids?

At Restoration, we take seriously the privilege of  sharing with our kids God’s story of His amazing, never stopping, never giving up, always and forever rescuing love for each and every one of them.  We desire for our kids to know these things:

God knows them.  (Psalm 139:1-8)

He’s crazy about them.  (John 3:16)

He goes with them everywhere.  (Matthew 28:20)

Please pray for and encourage our kids’ small group leaders as they respond to God’s call to love and serve our kids.


Participating in God’s Generosity

A group of us gathered on Wednesday night to talk about what God has to say about immigration.  Unlike the debates we are hearing on TV and the Radio in the build up to the election, this was not a moment to talk about our different political views, but to have a discussion about what unites us by learning about God’s heart for the stranger among us.   And God gives a surprising amount of instruction about this!   

When I think about vulnerable people, those that need to be protected, I think of the poor, the widow and the orphan.   However when God talks about caring for the vulnerable in the Bible, there is a fourth category – the foreigner.  Throughout the Old Testament God reminds the Israelites “do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).  If he mentions it so many times, it makes me think I should be paying a little more attention – is the immigrant more vulnerable than the average citizen?  Do they have the same access to justice, services and wealth?  There must be a reason why God says that he “watches over the alien” (Psalm 146:9), that he needs to be their protector.

Jesus was keenly aware of the needs of the immigrant, having himself lived as a foreigner in Egypt when a child. In Matthew 25 he makes clear that it is those who feed the hungry; clothe the naked and; invite the stranger in, that will inherit the kingdom of God.  But what does all this mean for us today?

It is not easy to respond to the needs of the people around us, not least because these aren’t necessarily people that we see everyday. For many of us these people are not our friends or neighbours.  But as we discussed on Wednesday, perhaps we need to be a little more intentional about reaching out.  This doesn’t have to mean moving into a different neighborhood (although for some people in our congregation that is exactly what they’ve decided to do) but may simply be making the effort with foreigners you do meet, whether in your workplace or in the supermarket.  Research from the Bllly Graham Center has found that less than 1 in ten immigrants will ever be welcomed.into the home of an American, to say nothing of a Christian.  Maybe this is an area where we could start to make a change.

As one of the people at Wednesday’s study so beautifully put it, this is a wonderful opportunity for us to participate in God’s generosity.  In Acts 17 it says, “From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” So it may be that God has brought people to live alongside us so they can reach out for Him and find Him. How wonderful if we could set aside our own fears and anxieties to join these people in this most divine journey.

Sarah Beaumont

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