Dominican Republic Mission Teams Depart

Mission team members host a Bible Study in Santo Domingo.  |  Photo: John Beyer

A total of 101 short-term missionaries from Walnut Creek Church are traveling to the Dominican Republic between March 15 and March 31 to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. The first group of 53 departed last week, and the rest will be leaving later this week.

The group is separated into 20 teams of four, five, or six people. Besides sharing the gospel at the university campus in Santo Domingo, the teams will also be teaching English classes and serving at an orphanage and at Haitian refugee camps.

“I’m excited to see people I’ve met in past years,” said Walnut Creek Church administrator Shaly Moyal, who organized the trip. “The university students represent all the country, so by sharing the gospel there, the entire country could be reached, which means the nation of Haiti could be reached since they share the same island.”

Moyal said she’s also excited about discipleship books the teams are taking. The bilingual books are divided into seven lessons with the goal of training those who have put their faith in Christ to continue living out the Great Commission after the missionaries return to the United States.

Pastor Herschel Martindale, one of the leaders behind the missions to the Dominican, sent Moyal an email with the following message after the first group arrived:

“Well, your family has surely increased in the past few hours. I really hope that all went well, and by now all are ‘at home’ in their new home in Santa Domingo. I AM SO THRILLED that you are there. I am believing God for great and mighty things in the next days. We have a large prayer team of over 50 people praying for you all regularly. I know that those at Walnut Creek and many others are also praying.”

To follow along and read stories from the missionary teams, click here to visit the mission trip blog.

Easter 2013 Weekend Services

Saturday, March 30

Walnut Creek West
3320 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines

Walnut Creek South
1101 E. Army Post Rd., Des Moines

Walnut Creek Downtown
323 E. Locust St., Des Moines

Sunday, March 31

Walnut Creek Windsor Heights
900 64th St, Windsor Heights
9am (traditional), 9:30am, 11am

Walnut Creek Johnston
5905 NW 100th St., Johnston

Walnut Creek Downtown
323 E. Locust St., Des Moines

Walnut Creek Shalom (en EspaƱol)
323 E. Locust St., Des Moines

Of God and Basketball

Upward Basketball players look for a rebound at Walnut Creek Downtown.

As the first round of the NCAA Tournament kicks off this week, another successful season of Upward basketball through Walnut Creek Church has officially come to an end. A total of 631 basketball players and 83 cheerleaders in grades kindergarten through eighth participated in this year’s program.

“My favorite part was making new friends,” said second grade basketball player Noah Lima. “I worked on my shooting form and cross-over dribble and learned that God is with us through it all.” Kindergarten basketball player Ahman Johnson offered a similar review: “I liked learning how to shoot and learning to be a good teammate and how to play the game and have fun.”

The boys’ dad D’Angelo Johnson coached both teams. “I enjoyed being there and encouraging them from the sidelines and really being involved with their development both on the court and during devotional times,” Johnson said.

Besides being the biggest Upward basketball season yet, it was also the most organized. “We put in a lot of time in the off season that would make it more organized,” said Emily Warford, who volunteers on Walnut Creek’s Upward basketball board. “We also met every week as a board to talk about how things were going.”

The devotional videos shown at half time were a highlight of this year’s season. Every Walnut Creek Church pastor took a week to share something related to the theme, “The person and work of Jesus,” in videos produced by Matt Shattuck and SueAnn Chong. The pastors used the opportunity to share the gospel with the kids and their families and to tell them how much God loves them and what it means to be a follower of Christ.

The nine-week season was also divided into three areas of focus: self-control, responsibility, and hope. Each area of focus featured a bible verse that the players and coaches worked on memorizing over the three-week period.

Other Upward basketball board members include Dave Rude, Chrissy Bloom, Rachel Bohacek, Becca Close, KayDee Cross, Jen Engdahl, Blake Kruger, Kyle Kurtenbach, Ricki Meyer, Leah Wake, and Joel Winters.

“It’s great to see Christ’s body coming together and people dying to themselves and putting in lots of time to make the league as successful as it was,” Kurtenbach said. “The kids gained a good balance of learning how to play the game of basketball and how God fits in—not only into basketball, but also their lives.”

Walnut Creek South Officially on the Map

Walnut Creek South band (L to R): Jon Andorf, Zac Oler, Alaina Irlbeck, Sean Covington

This winter, a group of about 40 Walnut Creek Church snowbirds headed south—not in Winnebagos that cost more than my house, and not for a temporary stay. This group of energetic Christ-followers planted a church on Des Moines’ south side. Although the church officially launched in January, they didn’t have their own building to meet in—until now.

Walnut Creek South held its first service in its new location last weekend. The church is located on a prime piece of real estate on Army Post Road right in front of Southridge Mall and the newest DMACC campus. “It’s a great location, and I think it’s going to be a wonderful home for us for years to come,” Pastor Dan Rude said. “We started the process of trying to get in here in August. A lot of people have worked really hard to get us here, and it’s great to finally be here.”

The building has a lot more going for it besides its location. Store-front windows allow lots of natural light into the large open space that houses the stage, plenty of room for seating, and an ample bar for refreshments and information. The building also features a black-and-white-checkered tile floor underfoot and a high ceiling with exposed rafters above the stage. Other perks include functional—dare I say attractive—bathrooms and space in the back with lots of potential for classrooms, offices, and storage.

“We’re super pumped and excited to be here,” said Ryan Weeks, who helped lead the church plant. “Everyone labored hard and gave it their all. It’s been a lot of work, and we have a lot of work left.”

The sign of building’s former occupant, Destination Lounge, still hangs above the front door. The rooms in the back are delineated by studs and unfinished drywall. But on Saturday night, the building was filled with so much energy and excitement, it wasn’t hard to look past the imperfections. “It’s pretty surreal. It looks totally different to see the parking lot full and all the people inside,” said Tyler Johnson, who also helped lead the plant.

More importantly than the building itself, the church is already growing, and its members are maturing. Someone who attended the first service back in January came to know the Lord and was recently baptized. The leaders also have many plans for future service and outreach opportunities to the south side.

Until now, the church was meeting at Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church down the road. Although many obstacles slowed down the process of getting into their own building, everyone seems to agree it’s been for the best. “I think it’s been good to have time to work out the kinks. Things are going a lot more smoothly now than when we first started,” said Meghan Ostergaard, who also helped with the church plant. Johnson agrees: “God clearly wanted us to wait a while. God has been refining us, and that could be a reason he had us wait.”