Freedom in February
1) The young lady that had gotten into a ton of trouble with her parents after attending our fall retreat has returned! She came to our first home-group this year and has had meals with a few of our students. Thank you guys for your prayers. The Lord is so good!
2) We had a burst of sinful situations that were quite difficult to navigate at the end of last semester. Just as we feel like we are getting some traction as a freshly multiplied home-group, here comes the enemy trying to destroy. Last home-group the Lord gripped one of our student's heart during our discussion on Romans 2. In life-group they shared that they weren't expecting the teaching to grip their heart so much. They said that as soon as we started talking about sexual immorality, they couldn't stop asking questions. They even apologized for asking so many questions. Our response was, "that's why we are here!" They asked "if someone continues in sin and never repents, does that mean they aren't truly a believer?" They shared with their life-group leader that they were going to go meet with a person where things would probably not honor the Lord, but because of home-group they felt like God was telling them not to go. THIS IS INCREDIBLE! Before this moment, we felt lost as to how to help them, but the Spirit of God is still convicting hearts! The Word says that "the Spirit has come to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and the judgement to come." Please pray that He keep working in the hearts of anyone who finds themselves in Taproot Church!
Pictured in the center above is our newest student leader Daisy! She is so gifted and awesome. She has been with our church for about 2 years now. She probably would have been asked into leadership sooner if her availability had been there. But she is available and excited about serving our church in this new leadership role.
Helen and I co-lead the home-group Grassroots. Our core team consists of Helen, myself, John, Destinee, and Daisy. To have a leadership team with 3 student leaders is an incredible gift from the Lord. We have about 14 people in our small group with Helen and I being the only non-students. Our goal is for our small groups to be student attended and led to grow the next generation of Christian leaders. We praise God for all that He is doing!
World Mandate 2020
We did a pilot run of attending world mandate this year. We were challenged to remember that God's heart is for the whole world to know Him. Our church is prayerfully considering a church based team to send overseas. It is a bit early with us being a fairly new church plant, but we have several members who have been preparing for years and we are excited to mobilize those whom the Lord has brought our way.
This will be an area we could really use prayer in. There is one who wants to use their engineering background in missions overseas and then a few whose heart is to go to the most unengaged places on the earth. For those unfamiliar, there are several categories in missions. One is unreached, which is defined as having no indigenous community of believers with less than 2% of the population being evangelical. Unengaged are those ethno-linguistic groups that have “no known active church planting underway.” This provides a unique challenge for all of us as we try and discern how the Lord is wanting us to move.
Please pray for us:
1) One young lady took a trip to Lebanon last summer as an Arabic-English translator for a medical mission team. This year she will be traveling to Chile with a team of architects and engineers to see how missions can be done with her degree. This girl is a dynamo that speaks English, Arabic, and Spanish. She loves Jesus and is crazy fruitful. She has been our missions liaison spear heading our work with the refugee community here in San Antonio. Please pray all of her funds come in for her trip to Chile in a couple weeks. Please also pray for us to know how to best counsel her as far as her future in missions and whether or not she would be a part of a team we send to the unengaged.
2) Please pray for our vision trip this summer. God willing, I will be taking a small team from our church overseas. We are not allowed to mention the names of the countries, so please do not post this anywhere. We need protection and funding. We also are seeking the Lord on where He is moving in these regions and if this is the best fit for the team that is praying about going. THIS IS HUGE! Truly, Sarah and I are not sure where we fit, whether we are mobilizers or goers. Please pray for the Lord to guide, confirm, and establish these efforts, granting team unity and peace every step of the way.
A FEW MORE PRAISES!
More praise reports. The Lord did an incredible thing over the break and many of you were a part of it. We were in one of the lowest places support wise at the end of last year. We had about $8,000 of unpaid salary and reimbursements sitting on a credit card. I was crying out to God asking Him whether I was supposed to leave the field to go full time support raise or not. Through your generous giving, we received all of our unpaid salary and reimbursements and also picked up around 800 in new recurring giving! After lowering our insurance premium and with the new recurring giving, we are at 84% of our needs. With the INSANE generosity of those end of year special gifts, we have a cushion to carry us to the summer where we can, God willing, give ourselves to full time to support raising. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
Also Sarah made a 100 and 98 in her two classes last semester. My baby is so smurt :). We are excited to feel the Lord's grace as she pursues her masters in counseling. Please continue to pray for grace for her, our family, and all the mental health challenges our church plant and students are facing!
To summarize (TLDR), here are the prayer points mentioned above and a few more 🙂 :
1) Please pray God's Spirit be working in the hearts of anyone who visits or attends Taproot Church. Pray that we be a church who seek Him and respond with joyful obedient hearts.
2) Thank God for all of the funding He provided over the break! WOOHOO! Also, pray for the lady in our Church who is raising funds for a Chile mission trip in a couple weeks.
3) Pray for the Lord to direct our vision trip over-seas this summer. Pray for Him to show us where He is moving among the un-engaged. Pray for direction and provision for all parties going on the trip. Pray for Sarah and I to know the role of our family in this endeavor.
4) Pray for God to grant me incredible grace in evangelism this semester. We are hosting our first branches outreach class and have 3 students including myself taking it. Pray that we sow abundantly in the Gospel and that the faith of the students sharing be encouraged.
5) More student leaders and more students who want to know, love, and follow the Lord.
6) Pray for our Men's and Women's retreats coming up. For the Lord to meet us in a powerful way. Especially for the students who are sacrificing their time to seek the Lord in this extended way.
7) Please pray for me to be empowered by God for several teachings this semester. I am planning the Men's retreat and will most likely be teaching several of the sessions. I will also be teaching on Sunday later in March. Pray for the Lord to grant me His words and to be working complementary in the hearts of His people.
8) Pray for Sarah and our family as we juggle her next two classes in her masters in counseling.
Much love guys and WARM REGARDS! Andy and Sarah
Salvation And Baptism
Here we are wrapping up another awesome and fruitful semester. A guy in my lifegroup named Kyndal gave his life to Christ this semester! He joined our homegroup through an invite to our Halloween party in the fall. He instantly became a regular attender to both church and our homegroup. I shared a formal presentation of the gospel with him via an outreach tool we use called the bridge diagram. It is about a 45 minute presentation that sweeps through who God is, who man is, the problem of sin separating us from God, various ways man has tried to bridge the gap created by sin, and then how God graciously and lovingly paid the price of our sin debt for us. He appreciated the presentation but felt he still had some questions he wanted our lifegroup to pray with him through. He describes last semester as getting to know Jesus. He described this semester as the time he surrendered his life fully to Christ. God is so incredible with his timing and providence. A week after Kyndal officially gave his life to Christ, he was called to deploy. He is one of our students that has raised his hands to serve in our military. It's crazy, he was offered a contract that would keep him from deploying until he finished school. After he was called, and with much prayer, he felt like he couldn't turn down such an honorable opportunity. It truly was a decisive sacrifice, his grades have been incredible and he really enjoys his cyber security major. WE CAN'T WAIT FOR HIM TO COME BACK TO US! Our homegroup had a great celebration and our lifegroup has goals to keep him in prayer and send him gift packages over the next year until he comes back to us. Please keep him in prayer for the service he is providing our country.
This is an incredible testimony to the Lord's faithfulness to build His church and raise up laborers. I can testify, as dark as it is and as vulnerable His church can feel at times, HE IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH among college students. John is the guy who has so faithfully discipled Kyndal and a guy named Riley in my lifegroup. Destinee after having just given her life to Christ and then baptized last semester has been faithful with everything we have asked of her. Her growth has been incredible to see. Julio is a guy I have been discipling since we started the church plant. He came with us from A&M and his trajectory has been nothing less than steady and stellar. Tori, the young lady who led Destinee to Christ and baptized her, was prayed on as our official worship leader for our homegroup.
HOW WE DO IT AT TAPROOT: We follow a recognition model, as opposed to just appointing leaders and then assigning tasks. We give members opportunity to use their gifts and serve the homegroup. As they are faithful with a little, we entrust them with more. By the time they are fully serving in a given role, say leading and discipling, we then recognize what the Lord is already doing through them by laying on hands and giving them a formal position. There are various qualifications besides just fruitfulness, such as character and availability that must be present as well. Christ does it many ways in His church. But what I appreciate about the recognition model is that it gives people opportunity to exercise their calling and gifts without the pressure of a formal role. The times I have just put someone in leadership without them being tested in it a little bit, and/or given an opportunity to see if they even like the type of work required, has usually ended poorly. It takes a lot more than mature character to persevere in some of the warfare that befalls leaders, and without the necessary gifting, their spiritual vigor can wilt pretty quickly.
Ok, we aren't laying hands on people every week I promise. There has just been a lot the Lord has been establishing this semester. Michelle Muenich is the wife of one of our Pastors Stephen Muenich. She has faithfully coached both homegroups and discipled several of the women on our church plant. She took over coaching the homegroup I lead when my wife Sarah stepped out with baby Collette. She will continue to coach and co-lead the multiplication homegroup as the Lord leads that next semester.
Leah... Oh my Lord, what an insane gift to have! Not sure if you recall us talking about us going on the church plant with 10 kids under 6 years old. We joked about how most church plants in our ministry go with young families with maybe one kid. We asked for prayer that the Lord would meet us in our unique need. Often children's ministry is the last thing to get attention on a church plant that is focused on college students. Well, Leah just finished support raising to be our children's ministry director. She has such a heart for children's ministry and is SO GIFTED! It really is crazy and such an answered prayer to see the Lord provide someone who would SUPPORT RAISE!?! to help shepherd and disciple the children of Taproot Church. She is actually a young lady that Christina Kroeger led to Christ in college. I believe Kyle led her husband Michael Kader to Christ in college as well. They both have been such an asset to the church plant.
OK LAST AWESOME NEWS! We have 4 students going to Colorado LT this summer from Taproot. There is one additional student joining us from a church supporting Sarah and me. There is a total of about 160 students from Collegiate Church Network that attend Colorado LT. They all have paid jobs at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park. The YMCA allows us to partner with them. We provide student workers, they provide jobs, food and lodging. We then fly speakers out each week to teach leadership training modules. The students also all participate in a Project Group. These act like homegroups except the students are required to spend the whole day with their project group. The whole purpose of the project group is to foster spiritual community, be a primary vehicle for discipleship, and a place to put into practice the leadership skills being developed through the LT program. The program is 12 weeks long. Check out the LT PROMO VIDEO!
Please keep these items in prayer:
1) Sarah, family, and I to prepare well and have safe travels to LT. For God to bless the whole thing.
2) For God to sustain our support account as we spend the summer at the Colorado leadership training program.
3) Pray for the 5 students going with Taproot and the one joining us from supporting church (all 160 for that matter) to have incredible God filled summers at LT.
4) Pray for the students who will be working and attending school this summer. That they will find Christ centered community wherever they are and for them to come back strong and ready to minister to the next generation entering college at UTSA in the fall.
Thank you guys for all your support, we couldn't do it without you. Much love, and warm regards, - Andy and Sarah Stewart
NEW LIFE NOVEMBER
Destinee Garza is one of our new students this semester. She lives with Tori and Destiny Luna. Walking from dorms to church on campus one morning, Tori got a sense that Destinee had not placed her faith in Christ. She asked some pointed questions and sure enough she hadn't. She lead her to Christ right there on the way to church. What is so incredible is that Destiny Luna invited Tori in the fall and then baptized her in the Spring. Then Tori leads their new roommate Destinee Garza to Christ this fall. This is what we dream and pray for. To put the cherry on top, this all happened on my birthday! I felt sooo loved by the Lord. We celebrated at lunch that we will always share a birthday together now. My natural birth and her new birth in Christ! She has been hungry to grow and one of our most committed members of home group this semester.
This was our fall retreat we call Spiritual Challenge Weekend (SCW, pronounced SCWuh). It was pretty crazy because it was at the HEB Camp in Leakey Texas right when all that flooding was happening. The other church in our network we partner with backed out, but we wanted to press on in hopes the Lord might make a way. There was a lot of last minute scrambling because we were sharing responsibilities. But the Lord blessed the weekend sooo much. While we had to ford a river (literally), there was very little rain. And the intimate setting allowed our students to share and connect in ways they admitted wouldn't have happened if we had 100 students there. Both Destinee (new believer) and Daisy shared in our tie down some of the most beautiful devotional thoughts that the Lord had done in their hearts that weekend. I feel I learn so much from our students. It was a precious time.
On Halloween we went on a campus prayer walk with a group from our support team. Six people flew all the way to San Antonio to come support the work, serve in our city, see our homegroup, and worship at our Sunday Service. We felt sooo blessed!
As we walked on campus, we were surprised how many students were in costume. Noah would run up and give them hugs which was soo cute (middle left pic).
We enjoyed Halloween evening with the students by trick-or-treating with our kids and then having a party!
This might gross some out. Someone came up with the crazy idea to do a gallon challenge. Basically you have 1-hr to try to drink a gallon of milk and to win you only have to keep it down for 30 minutes. There was a $100 cash prize for anyone who could do it. Gotta love college students. I had purposed there was no way I was going to participate before I got there. But... They talked me into it. With 9 participants, no one got through their whole gallon. Everyone threw up eventually, 6 didn't make it even the hour. The person who drank the most and held it passed the 30 minute mark was a 13 year old girl who fasted all day. She wanted to win because she was saving up for a car. This teenage girl beat 8 grown men lol!
The last picture (Liam and Noah in face paint) was actually at a refugee fall festival this weekend. We volunteered to help a church that has a really streamlined refugee ministry. The festival was at an apartment complex that houses refugees from 12 different nations. It was so sweet to engage the nations right here in San Antonio. Noah kept asking this kind older Persian lady with a white head scarf if she was a ghost lol. Fortunately she didn't speak English, but it sure was cute =).
John is a student I'm discipling from my life-group . One night after seeing a speaker he loves, we rode around downtown on scooters. We had a blast! We kept thinking everything was the Alamo and then ran into the actual Alamo. We laughed so hard as we asked some strangers to take our picture. He is so hungry to grow and excited about discipling other students himself.
1) Our annual Collegiate staff conference in Ohio this week. Pray for the Lord to equip, refresh, and revision us for the great commission in this next generation.
2) Pray for discernment as we explore what could be our first international mission trip next year to El Salvador! We have a young lady from El Salvador and she just returned from an exploratory trip last week. It is looking very promising.
3) Pray for the many students who want to go to our leadership training program in Colorado next summer. It lasts all summer and includes a full time job at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes park. You do make some money, but a lot of our students have MAJOR financial struggles as first-gen college students. Pray the Lord provide in all the ways needed, including Sarah's and my support account to be healthy enough to go. We have 9 students considering, all from our home-group.
WARM REGARDS EVERYONE! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND HOPE TO SEE Y'ALLS FACES AND GIVE HUGS SOON!
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Php. 1:3-5 NIV)