HEINEN HAPPENINGS – November 2020

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
(Psalm 105:1–4 ESV)

Even in the midst of our season of COVID, election chaos, and financial struggle, I pray you have a thankful heart that recognizes God’s power and His loving care for you. As the Psalmist says, may you call upon His name and seek Him continually through this challenging time. As the Scriptures remind us, when we seek Him, we WILL find Him, if we seek Him with all of our hearts!

Our little family has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season. We are extremely thankful this day after Veteran’s Day for all who have served our country in the armed forces. Thank you!

Thank you for your service!

Our girls are doing great. Maria continues to manage online classes and on-campus classes. She officially moved into the next phase of her elementary education training. She is happy to be our chauffer, which we appreciate!

Victoria and Noah are enjoying married life. Victoria is juggling classes at the elementary, middle and high schools. Because of COVID, the middle school went all virtual for a few weeks. Now the high school is doing the same. It looks like her Christmas concerts will be cancelled. Her students did great in their All-region contest.

Rebekah is applying for social work jobs, now that New Jersey finally approved her state license. She and Tim enjoy their home church, as well as their visits to Tim’s home church as he preaches every other week. Rebekah sings quite often. Their two cats keep them busy.

Leah continues her ministry of intercession for many of you. We celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary this week. How wonderful it is to keep growing more in love as the years pass. Here is a wedding picture I know you have seen before. It is the only one on my computer, so enjoy!

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

I turned 58 this week. I am another year older, but I don’t know if I am another year wiser. Rebekah called from New Jersey, Victoria had her class sing for me, and Maria bought me a Packer facemask.

I know many of you are facing troubling circumstances in your lives. If I can pray for any of you, please contact me. If any of you are struggling with the heartbreak of this season, please read my recent blogpost, I had a dream… . I invite you to participate in an online support group that is detailed in the blogpost.

In this season where you wonder where God may be, I invite you to read Scripture with me online. I always find Him best in the pages of His Word. If you want to explore and discuss God’s Word with me, please contact me.

We are in the midst of trying to figure out what we can do for Christmas at our wonderful church and in our neighborhood. Like your Thanksgiving, ours will probably be a bit low key this year. Even so, Happy Thanksgiving!

Again, how can I pray for you? Please let me know.

Brian Heinen

802 E 23rd Street Russellville, AR 72802 (479) 886-0765 

bheinen.com  brheinen1@gmail.com


I had a dream…

Unlike MLK, these words do not describe my inspiring aspirations for the future. They describe a recent dream I had while I slept. It is a very rare occurrence for me to remember a dream. I don’t believe this was a prophetic dream, nor do I believe it was dream caused by too much pizza the night before. It simply was something that happened that made me think about my life.

In my dream I was the busy pastor of a thriving, vibrant church. I was blessed to partner with incredible local ministry colleagues and a wonderful denominati0nal family. We were active sharing the love and truth of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world and the supernatural fruit of repentance resulted. Occasionally I had the privilege to travel the world to encourage international workers as they faithfully served. It was a wonderful dream.

Then I woke up. None of those things were true in real life. I love the tiny, mountain church family I am blessed to share God’s Word with on Sundays, but due to physical limitations I am not able to do the work of a shepherd among them. As an interim, I have no authority to lead. Being unable to drive, I cannot be a presence in a community that is 40 minutes from my house. I seem to struggle to be a light here in my own neighborhood. I pray for my past ministry partners, but often feel forgotten and even sometimes ignored by those busy with their own ministry responsibilities. I will never travel the world to cheer on my missionary friends and see the pioneering work of God firsthand. While my wife and I once prepared to be missionaries, we are now limited to praying that others will be called to the peoples we love.

I wonder if my almost 60 years have been wasted as I sometimes served in congregations that really didn’t want me but felt forced to hire a credentialed worker because of denominational regulations. Did my life bear any fruit that pleased my Savior? I can honestly say that everything I did in my decades of imperfect ministry was done with a heart desiring that God would be glorified. As I look back, I doubt if I made much of an impact for Him and the furtherance of His Kingdom.

Instead, as I look back I fear that the deep wounds that my family experienced through years of being the subjects of scrutiny, gossip, slander, and suspicion were not worth it. Did my desire to fulfill a mostly fruitless ministry-calling ruin the lives of those I love most? I hate to think some of this might be true, but I wonder.

I write these words not to elicit sympathy. I write these words to express my grief. Grief is what we experience when we mourn the loss of something. For me it was the loss of the American-ministry dream. I had hoped that the Disney-inspired “just believe and work hard and your dream will be fulfilled” ministry-mantra would happen to me. I mourn its loss. I mourn what it has done to my family.

So many are grieving today. COVID has destroyed precious lives and separated families. Jobs and financial security have been lost. Some have been forced to give up certain freedoms they enjoy, at least temporarily. Our divisive political climate seems to be destroying the country we love. Social media contributes to the destruction of long-held relationships. Churches are being split over things that don’t really matter. So many have lost so much! And just like the families who due to COVID were unable to hold funeral services to say good-bye to family members, multitudes of people are now frozen in time and unable to deal with the losses of life.

To truly heal and move on, we must take the time and energy to journey through several stages. After the crisis of loss, we often numbly deny what we have experienced. Sometimes we erupt in anger or tears. We face questions we cannot answer, such as “If only I had done this, would they have died?”, or “Why did this happen to me?”. Sadness, hopelessness, loneliness, numbness, and feelings of guilt and blame are all part of our journey back to some sense of “normalcy.” Quite often we go back and visit these various emotions and experiences time and time again. Some never make it very far in their journey back to a life of renewed hope and healing.

I often hear from my Christian friends that all I have to do is “believe the promises of God” and try really hard not to feel bad or sad and my grief would go away. But as I explore Holy Scripture, I don’t see that being true. Jesus Himself cried out, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” (Mt. 27:46). Jesus wept at the tomb of His friend, Lazarus (Jn. 11:33-38). The psalmists acknowledged their losses and wept (Ps. 6:6, 39:12, 42:3). So did the prophets (Is. 22:4, Jr. 9:1). Ecclesiastes reminds us there is a time to weep (3:4). We can never weep over loss if we never acknowledge our loss. How wonderful to think that God doesn’t get angry at us when we grieve. Instead, He sees our tears. Those tears are precious to Him (Is. 38:3-5)!

I wonder if the reason I lived a life with frequent loss is so that I can help others right now who are grieving. I pray I won’t be like Job’s friends who after sitting with Job in silence for a week, began a diatribe pointing out Job’s lack of faith and blaming him for his suffering. Rather than comforting their friend, they increased his suffering.

Instead, I want to truly listen to the broken-hearted. I want to pray for them. I want to allow them to express their emotions and ask their tough questions. I want to help practically with things that the grieving person might not be able to do right now. I want to remove some of their responsibilities that are weighing on their tired hearts. I want them to understand it is normal to grieve. I want to encourage them with the healing balm of God’s Word. And I want to help them lament.

In Psalm 13:1, David cries out, “How much longer will you forget me. Lord? Forever?” Yet, a few verses later David proclaims, “I rely on your constant love; I will be glad because you will rescue me. I will sing to you, O Lord, because you have been good to me.” Often we can’t move on to that place of trust and worship until we truly acknowledge our pain and loss. So many of the Psalms include a lament, where people pour out their complaints to God. Perhaps they are trying to persuade Him to act. Oftentimes they end up remembering God’s faithfulness in the past that enables them to trust Him in the present. They know that God is the One to run to when loss comes. They know God is their help, even if they don’t see it right now. It is an honest cry that allows one to trust. The problems are not often solved right away, but hope is renewed through lament that God will act in His way and in His time.

Have you experienced life-crushing loss recently? If you need someone to listen, contact me. If you would like to be part of an online healing group where you can share your brokenness in a safe atmosphere where people will love and pray for you, message me and we will start one up. I can truly say that while I sometimes go back and visit the unpleasant places of my grief journey, I am now experiencing God’s presence and peace in ways I never would have if I had not experienced my loss. He is faithful. And I want to introduce you to Him.

[Inspired by Lesson 3, “What Happens When Someone Is Grieving,” in Healing the Wounds of Trauma (American Bible Society, 2014).]

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – October 2020

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. (Nahum 1:7)

Friends, I trust that you are experiencing the grace of God in great measure as you seek Him in these strange but crucial days. I apologize for not writing a September newsletter. The month flew by before I could sit down at my computer.

I won’t give you an update on our girls, but will give you links to their Facebook pages if you want to follow their busy lives: Rebekah Hope Thorpe; Victoria Grace Greenawalt; Maria Faith Heinen – We are so proud of them!

Please pray for Leah. She is an amazing wife and mother, but is so limited by the physical and emotional challenges she faces. She never complains about her homebound condition. Yet, I would love for her to have the ability to do more of what she would like to do. I asked her what she wanted to share in this newsletter and she simply stated, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

I am very thankful that I was approved for disability and received my first monthly check for $1709 in September. The judge ruled in my favor without the need for a hearing after reviewing my case file. This is a huge relief! Please pray Leah and I will be good stewards and will survive on this amount and that we will be able to take care of past debt that hangs over our heads.

Last month, I had my appointment with a neurologist from the University of Arkansas Medical School concerning my physical condition. I followed this up with another round of tests. I did not yet hear of any results. I waited over a year for this appointment. God has answered your prayers.

While we are extremely blessed by these developments, Leah and I have been overwhelmed by the trials of life we are all facing right now. I am so burdened by the condition of our nation and by the inability of western cultural Christianity to make any impact for the sake of Jesus’ kingdom. I am praying for the true Church to truly be the Church as we experience a fresh vision of Jesus Christ. He is our only hope! Remember these words: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I continue to pray as to how our family can shine the light of Christ in our neighborhood. I pray for 80 surrounding households regularly (5 per day). I started a neighborhood Facebook page to connect our neighbors better. I give out gospel resources as I can and I hope to soon start handing out fresh-basked cookies to let our neighbors know we love them.

After much prayer, I am attempting to start some online or neighborhood outreach opportunities:

  1. I was recently certified to facilitate trauma healing groups. I want to begin an online or neighborhood Healing for Wounded Hearts group. It is a holistic and Bible-based approach to helping people heal from wounded hearts that recognizes that trauma affects every part of a person: mind, body and spirit. The lessons use art, stories, activities and questions to help people engage deeply with themselves, with God, and with each other. At the heart of this process is the Bible, which tells us about the healing love of God. The group would meet weekly for six weeks. Let me know if you are interested.
  2. I would also like to start an online or neighborhood group for those wondering who Jesus is and what true Christianity looks like. Christianity Explored will be a seven-week study through the gospel of Mark. It will focus on who Jesus is, why He came to earth, and what that means for us. If you have question about Jesus and would like to participate, please let me know.
  3. If those opportunities don’t appeal to you, perhaps you would be interested in meeting with me online for a time of one-to-one Bible reading. I would love to read a short passage with you and explore our questions together.
  4. I am starting a weekly prayer gathering through a telephone conference call. Many people don’t have the ability to go to church for a prayer meeting or meet with friends for prayer. How crucial it is during these challenging times to seek Jesus together. More details to come.
  5. I would love to offer my virtual services as a Biblical counselor. While I am not a medical professional nor a trained therapist, I love to listen and see how the Bible speaks to us as to how Jesus can impact our lives and bring renewed hope. Let me know if you need someone to listen.
  6. Above all else, I can pray. How can I pray for you? Please let me know.

Rev. Brian Heinen

802 E 23rd Street Russellville, AR 72802

(479) 886-0765 

bheinen.com 

brheinen1@gmail.com



HEINEN HAPPENINGS – August 2020

Friends, in the midst of the trials of COVID, racial division, economic upheaval, and political unrest, may I take a moment to praise our loving Savior who has defeated all our enemies, including death itself. He is worthy to be praised!

Our family, like yours, is trying to adjust to our always changing circumstances. Maria will be living at home for her next year at Arkansas Tech University. With all the restrictions due to COVID, ATU will not offer much in terms of campus life this year. The possibility that the students may have to move off-campus is always looming. It will be cheaper for her to stay home and drive the 15 minutes to class. It will be nice for her mother and myself to have her around. She is an incredible help to us and is our main source of transportation. She celebrated a quiet birthday on August 2nd.

Victoria and Noah are enjoying married life. Victoria began her teaching career last week. She is in the process of meeting her coworkers in the Atkins School System. Somehow she needs to learn how to teach music and choir to students of all ages when the state is recommending that students only sing outside. After work, Noah has been working hard making improvements to their home. I am sure their landlord is very thankful.

Bekah and Tim are doing great adjusting to being newly married. She is praying that the New Jersey social work board will vote to give her a state license at their next meeting. The board has not met since February. When I asked Rebekah to send me a picture, she sent me one of their cat on a leash. I don’t know why they would put a cat on a leash. Tim continues to enjoy his job and recently picked Reggie White to be on one of his Madden teams. There is hope for that Giants fan yet. She celebrated her birthday in July.

Leah and I continue to praise God for His grace and provision. We both battle fatigue but at least we are tired together. I was scheduled to have a disability hearing the end of July, but the judge read my pre-hearing memorandum and ruled in my favor without a hearing. It will still take some time for him to write the brief, but at least we know the outcome. We don’t yet know the amount he decided upon. Please pray for God’s provision until we start receiving assistance. God is good!

We continue to pray for our neighborhood. Our next door neighbors just moved away after only being there 6 months. That is typical on our block. I put together a Facebook page for our neighborhood, but need to get the word out to the neighbors. It seems many desire to stay connected during this time when so many things isolate and divide us.

I continue to receive training, especially in the area of trauma healing. So many are deeply wounded right now. How wonderful it is to introduce brokenhearted people to our Great Physician who can heal even the most damaged souls.

I also am blessed to fill the pulpit for the fine people of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Appleton. I couldn’t ask for a kinder, more receptive audience. The main ministry for Leah and myself is one of intercession. How can we pray for you right now? Please contact me with your praises and requests. We love and appreciate you!

Brian Heinen 802 E 23rd St, Russellville, AR 72802 479-886-0765 bheinen.com brheinen1@gmail.com

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – July 2020

Friends, our update this month will be brief. We have no new weddings to report, although our newlywed daughters are both doing well and enjoying their new lives with their wonderful husbands. Maria is terrific as always and Leah remains faithful to her Lord even though she faces constant emotional and physical suffering.

For me, recent days have been overwhelmingly difficult. Physically, I continue to slowly decline. This past month has been a real challenge dealing with decreased use of my hands and exhaustion. I have to use my cane more often. Emotionally, I am consumed with feelings of failure. Today is the one-year anniversary of the last day I was able to work. I have had no earned income other than pulpit supply since. Financially, we are at disaster stage. I have a disability hearing scheduled for the end of this month, but even if I win results may still take time.

Thank you for your loving support and prayers during these past years. I do not have any answers as to why we seem to face constant trials and defeat, but I continue to humbly cry out to our merciful Savior. I constantly repent and ask the Holy Spirit to search my heart. Please forgive me if I have been a burden to you in any way. I still pray. Please let me know how I can pray for you.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:21

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – June 2020

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.

These words of praise from Revelation 7 echo the praise that is in my heart for the good and gracious One who sits on the throne of heaven. On May 31st, Victoria Grace Heinen became Victoria Grace Greenawalt as she and Noah made vows to each other before God and those present. Please pray for these kids to continue to grow in their love for Jesus as they also grow in their love for each other.  I am so proud of them for handling with patience and grace the trials of getting married in the midst of a pandemic.  This meant no bridal shower (and no presents!), few guests, and lots of uncertainty. I will share a few pictures here, but encourage you to look Victoria up on Facebook and ask her for more wonderful pics.

Rebekah and her new husband, Tim, were not able to travel to Arkansas from New Jersey because of COVID. She was heartbroken that she couldn’t come. We weren’t able to stream the service to her because the venue had no internet service, but she is enjoying every photo Sissy shares. Even with the pandemic, she and Tim are enjoying wonderful opportunities to reach people for Jesus. Rebekah has a wonderful online presence (check out her Facebook page, Rebekah Hope Thorpe, for encouragement and her own beautiful wedding shots) and hopes the office that issues social worker licenses reopens soon. Tim is finding opportunities to preach and has been recently hired to work at a drug and alcohol rehab center. We are so thankful for all God is doing in and through them!

Maria was the Master of Ceremonies for the 164th Homecoming of the Appleton Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The COVID-19 version of this anniversary was unique, but those who came enjoyed themselves. I praise God for those who came to know Jesus over the years because of the faithful witness of believers who called this church home. Maria did a terrific job. She continues to do childcare Monday-Friday. This past Sunday she took two cases of water to refresh those attending a local protest. She also held up a sign reminding those present of the words of Jesus, “Love one another, just as I have loved you.” (She refused to give me a picture of her at the event. I guess she is camera shy.)

church fall

Leah really enjoyed participating in the wedding, although in doing so she wore herself out for the next several days. She is praying continually for family and friends in the Twin Cities with the little energy she does have. Rebekah and Victoria both had to copy Leah’s pose at our own wedding just a few years ago.

The incredible joys of these past few weeks have been sandwiched in between the harsh realities of dealing with a global pandemic and national racial unrest and division. My heart truly aches for those struggling with COVID and/or other physical ailments. I am filled with sadness as I see people lose loved ones to death. I am heart-stricken as I hear stories about friends losing jobs and experiencing financial hardship. Like you, I was shocked and then brought to tears viewing the video of an unarmed black man murdered by someone who took an oath to protect and serve. I am horrified as I listen to stories of racism that my friends of different skin tones deal with regularly. I still can’t process what I felt as I watched on television sections of a city I once called home burned to the ground. Time after time I could do nothing but run to my Heavenly Father in prayer. I felt guilty for having to turn off news reports and for taking breaks from social media. Did this mean I didn’t care enough? How can hope and joy fill the same space as heartache and despair?

Reading the text from Revelation quoted earlier gave me insight into that difficult question. The book of Revelation begins with a breathtaking vision of the glorified Jesus Christ as He now is reigning from His heavenly throne. The book ends with Jesus our King defeating even death itself and then bringing heaven and earth together as He rules over all creation. Those redeemed by His shed blood have the hope of joining with Him for all eternity. In between are chapters full of the rebellion of mankind directed toward His loving kingship and the resulting cycles of horrific judgment and wrath that follow. The message of Revelation is intended to be encouragement for followers of the King who see chaos and suffering all around them. The reminder is that Jesus is the victor who is now on His throne and will one day come to make all things right. No wonder this terrifying book is filled with praise to the One who fills our suffering with hope and joy:

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

And no wonder the final cry of those awaiting the fullness of His reign is Come, Lord Jesus!

Please pray that even with my physical limitations I will glorify my King. Pray that with my limited influence I will still make Him known. I am doing some counseling through the internet and am preparing to do some online small group sessions related to reconciliation, healing, and evangelism. I will give you details later. I struggle with overwhelming fatigue in addition to the limitations that severe neuropathy in my feet, legs, and hands bring. I don’t have my disability hearing until the end of July. Please pray for Leah and I to experience God’s provision until then. My heart is incredibly burdened for all that my friends are going through. Please message me as to how I can pray for you during these challenging times.

Enjoy a few more wedding pics!

Rev. Brian Heinen

802 E 23rd Street Russellville, AR 72802

(479) 886-0765 bheinen.com brheinen1@gmail.com

 

 

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – May 2020

The month of May is special in the Heinen household, because we celebrate both Leah’s birthday (May 18th) and Mother’s Day. We love to celebrate Leah! This is what I shared on Facebook:

leah

“Happy Birthday 🎂 to Leah Heinen, my wife who is as lovely now as when we first started to date what seems like just a few years ago. You are the most incredible mother and you are truly my best friend. I love you!”

Happy Birthday, and Happy Mother’s Day, sweetie!

I also wished my mother, Jane LeBreck, and my step-mother, Mary Heinen, a Happy Mother’s Day! They both were hospitalized during this COVID-19 season. They are now home after quite a scare, and are recovering. My dad, Robert, and step-father, Duane, also have been hospitalized in recent months. Please pray for my parents to experience the healing, sustaining grace of Jesus.

Maria is now done with a very successful school year at Arkansas Tech University and is busy doing childcare for the summer. Rebekah is enjoying her newly married life in New Jersey, even in the midst of the pandemic. Victoria lost her adjunct job at the high school because of COVID, but was just hired for the fall semester as the vocal music director for the nearby Atkins school district (K-12). She and Noah get married in a little over one week!

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Please wish them congratulations and pray for them as they begin their lives as one.

I have faced some challenging days physically, but have also experienced God’s presence in a soul-strengthening way. I greatly enjoyed participating in a support group which was also part of the training required to lead trauma/healing groups. One person has said that due to various COVID-related problems, people suffering from trauma will be the largest mission field around the world in coming months. Only the peace and presence of Jesus Christ can bring healing to such wounded hearts. I look forward to reaching out to many with the mercy of our Lord.

Our church began to meet again in May, with masks and proper social distancing. I am doing some premarital counseling, thanks to the internet. I am making slow progress in my disability case, and am anticipating a hearing the end of July. I am excited about how my personal ministry is developing even with my health challenges and our ever-changing world. Here is part of what I shared from our last newsletter, for those of you who missed it:

After three decades of pastoral ministry, including planting churches, acting as chaplain, serving as a children’s/youth worker, leading as camp director, and shepherding existing congregations, I am now beginning a private ministry that will serve pastors and local church fellowships. Details can be found at bheinen.com. Many pastors, especially those serving in smaller congregations, often need people to come alongside and encourage them and assist them with duties that they don’t have time to fulfill. The foundation of this new ministry is prayerful dependence upon our mighty God, and I will take every opportunity I can to personally pray for my pastor friends. My family remains committed to praying specifically for our neighbors as we reach them with the love and truth of Jesus Christ.

To exalt Jesus, I will focus on three main areas:

  1. Communicator. I hope to give pastors a needed break by providing church pulpit supply. I also am available to speak at camps and conferences. I am a trained FaithSearch Discovery presenter, and encourage your church or group to host this wonderful evangelism/apologetics seminar. Check out what FaithSearch is all about at faithsearch.org.
  2. Counselor. Many pastors just don’t have as much time to invest in biblical counseling as they desire. I will make myself available to help busy pastors out in this area. I am now a SYMBIS premarital assessment facilitator, and would love to do premarital counseling for those whose pastors are too busy to do so. I am also a certified Fresh Hope group facilitator, and hope to lead support groups all around our community for those with a mental health diagnosis (and those who love them).
  3. Coach. The role of a life coach is to help people decide where they want to go in certain areas of their lives and help them get there. The Christian Life Coach helps people discover where Jesus Christ wants them to go, and helps them get there by the power of the Holy Spirit. I would love to help individuals and groups be all that Christ wants them to be. My special areas of interest are Spiritual Formation, and equipping people going through transitions in life. If your church is between pastors right now, I would love to “coach” your entire church family during this transition.

Jesus Christ is my life, my everything. I want everyone to know Him. To borrow words from the apostle Paul, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28 ESV). This is my desire. Would you help me?

I need your prayer! Only the Holy Spirit can change hearts and lives. I simply want to be His instrument. Contact me to be part of our prayer team.

I need your financial partnership. Would you prayerfully consider giving a generous gift to help me get started? How about a monthly gift? I hope to make all my services available for whatever people can afford. This means I will need supporters like you to supplement what clients can give. Right now, until we become a 501c3 organization, donations will just be considered gifts and are not tax deductible. You can give by sending a gift to our home address or by visiting bheinen.com. I realize that during this time of economic upheaval in our nation, this is the worst possible time to ask for funds. Yet, there are so many now who need spiritual encouragement.

I need you to use my services and refer them to others. How can I serve you? Your group? Your church family? Please let your friends know I am available. I can’t wait to share my incredible Savior with you and your friends.

Please contact me if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.

How can I pray for you? Please let me know.

Rev. Brian Heinen

802 E 23rd Street Russellville, AR 72802

(479) 886-0765 bheinen.com brheinen1@gmail.com

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – April 2020

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Friends and family, I trust you are experiencing the sustaining grace of Jesus through these challenging times.  While you did not gather on Easter to worship the Risen King with other believers, I pray that the reality of the resurrection still filled you with Christ’s living hope.

I am so burdened for all of you who are suffering physically with the virus or with other scary symptoms.  I am interceding for all of you who are facing job uncertainty and financial insecurity.  I am concerned for all of you dealing with overwhelming isolation and loneliness.  These are terrifying times.  May God’s perfect love be so real to you that all fear is cast out of your hearts!  Please contact me if I can pray for you!

Our family is dealing with seclusion with humor amidst the frustration.  Leah graciously endured (or enjoyed) a three-week separation from me, as I self-quarantined myself because of symptoms.  Maria is doing a great job finishing her college coursework, although she admits she much prefers being on campus.  Rebekah starts a nanny job soon even with the strict stay-at-home order she faces in New Jersey.  She is still waiting for her social work license to be processed, which may take some time since the government offices are closed.  Victoria and Maria are doing childcare for some friends of our family.  Most of Victoria’s music students are postponing their lessons until they can meet face-to-face.  She is hoping that she and Noah do not have to postpone their wedding in May.  Please pray for them!

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Our church family is missing our times of corporate worship, although we did hold a brief, drive-in service on Easter Sunday (see above).  We met for 20 minutes before a thunderstorm rolled in.  My family and I are continuing to reach out to our neighbors.  I pray for five neighbor families daily, and we passed out 33 copies of the Jesus Film over Easter weekend.  We are writing notes to them to keep in touch during this quarantine period.  This week we launch a neighborhood Facebook page to help our neighbors connect more effectively.  I am praying about and starting to organize a post-covid block party, whenever we are able to gather again.  We love our neighbors!

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For those of you new to our newsletter, let me explain a little of my own recent experience.  (For you faithful readers, please skip over the next paragraph.)  I am diagnosed with severe axonopathic polyneuropathy.  My feet have no feeling left, and my ankles and lower legs are severely numb.  My ability to drive is extremely limited and I walk like I am Frankenstein’s monster.  My hands have constant pain and numbness which impact my fine motor skills.  Writing and computer work are difficult.  The symptoms continue to progress.  My wonderful team of doctors are unable to find a cause and are trying to set up an appointment with a very busy neuromuscular specialist at the medical school in Little Rock.  I took a medical leave of absence last July 1st which turned into my resignation.  I am now unemployed and unemployable.  Although the courts are now greatly limited, I anxiously await a hearing to deal with my disability claim.  For most of the past two years, I have worn a boot on one or the other of my feet to heal wounds (see above).  Yet, through this trial God has proven Himself faithful time and time again.

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I thank God for this past year!  I have experienced God’s presence and peace in overwhelming fashion.  Daily I wake up completely dependent upon His grace and mercy for absolutely everything.  Corrie ten Boom has said, “You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.”  I am privileged to live that truth every moment of every day!

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One of the Scriptures that God continually brings me back to is the invitation that Jesus gives to us to “come” to Him when we labor and are heavy laden, so He can give us rest.  I daily experience the reality of these words, and yearn for others who are now hurting to experience Jesus, too.  I can’t help but think that God will use my experience to help others meet Him.  People are really traumatized right now, and Jesus wants to heal their hurting hearts.

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I am praying that God will spread the comfort He has given me to comfort others.  To accomplish that, I sense God leading me to restart plans I had several years ago.

After three decades of pastoral ministry, including planting churches, acting as chaplain, serving as a children’s/youth worker, leading as camp director, and shepherding existing congregations, I am now beginning a private ministry that will serve pastors and local church fellowships.  Details can be found at bheinen.com.  Many pastors, especially those serving in smaller congregations, often need people to come alongside and encourage them and assist them with duties that they don’t have time to fulfill.  The foundation of this new ministry is prayerful dependence upon our mighty God, and I will take every opportunity I can to personally pray for my pastor friends.  My family remains committed to praying specifically for our neighbors as we reach them with the love and truth of Jesus Christ.

To exalt Jesus, I will focus on three main areas:

  1. Communicator. I hope to give pastors a needed break by providing church pulpit supply.  I also am available to speak at camps and conferences.  I am a trained FaithSearch Discovery presenter, and encourage your church or group to host this wonderful evangelism/apologetics seminar.  Check out what FaithSearch is all about at faithsearch.org.
  2. Counselor. Many pastors just don’t have as much time to invest in biblical counseling as they desire.  I will make myself available to help busy pastors out in this area.  I am now a SYMBIS premarital assessment facilitator, and would love to do premarital counseling for those whose pastors are too busy to do so.  I am also a certified Fresh Hope group facilitator, and hope to lead support groups all around our community for those with a mental health diagnosis (and those who love them).
  3. Coach. The role of a life coach is to help people decide where they want to go in certain areas of their lives and help them get there.  The Christian Life Coach helps people discover where Jesus Christ wants them to go, and helps them get there by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I would love to help individuals and groups be all that Christ wants them to be.  My special areas of interest are Spiritual Formation, and equipping people going through transitions in life.  If your church is between pastors right now, I would love to “coach” your entire church family during this transition.

Jesus Christ is my life, my everything.  I want everyone to know Him.  To borrow words from the apostle Paul, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28 ESV).  This is my desire.  Would you help me?

I need your prayer!  Only the Holy Spirit can change hearts and lives.  I simply want to be His instrument.  Contact me to be part of our prayer team.

I need your financial partnership.  Would you prayerfully consider giving a generous gift to help me get started?  How about a monthly gift?  I hope to make all my services available for whatever people can afford.  This means I will need supporters like you to supplement what clients can give.  Right now, until we become a 501c3 organization, donations will just be considered gifts and are not tax deductible.  You can give by sending a gift to our home address or by visiting bheinen.com.  I realize that during this time of economic upheaval in our nation, this is the worst possible time to ask for funds.  Yet, there are so many now who need spiritual encouragement.

I need you to use my services and refer them to others.  How can I serve you?  Your group?  Your church family?  Please let your friends know I am available.  I can’t wait to share my incredible Savior with you and your friends.

Please contact me if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.

Rev. Brian Heinen

802 E 23rd Street    Russellville, AR 72802

(479) 886-0765    bheinen.com    brheinen1@gmail.com

HEINEN HAPPENINGS -March 2020

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Friends, during this time of constant upheaval and uncertainty, remember the Lord’s great love for you. In your weakness, may His strength be made perfect. In your turmoil, may His peace that transcends understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We are praying for you! Please contact us if we can pray for you in a specific way.

Remember this description of our loving Father’s character:

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…”. (Exodus 34:6). This passage is the most quoted verse throughout the rest of Scripture for a reason.

Like your families, our own clan has experienced a challenging past month. Rebekah and her new husband Tim live in a virus hot-spot in New Jersey and faced a curfew and call to quarantine before the rest of the country. They bought a cat to celebrate.

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Victoria and her fiance Noah had to cancel their bridal shower. Their upcoming wedding is still in the works, but they are remaining flexible. Victoria’s adjunct job at the high school is now on hold (along with her income), and she is trying to connect with her music students online for lessons. Maria had to move off campus and will finish the rest of her semester on her computer in her bedroom. Leah, with her compromised immune system, is trying to deal with this by avoiding anyone who may be a carrier. I am listening to my doctor, who told me to self-quarantine since I have several symptoms. Let me tell you, it is difficult trying to avoid others when four people live together in one 800 square foot house. To top it all off, my mother had two heart attacks and several surgical procedures and was not allowed any visitors, including my very caring stepfather. Thankfully, she is now recovering at home. But I am not complaining. We have met with God in some incredible ways that may not have happened otherwise. Maria, Leah, and I are enjoying our study together in the gospel of Mark (with appropriate social distancing). Leah and I continue to pray though the Psalms and Proverbs (with appropriate social distancing). God is faithful and He is good.

I am really concerned for you. How are YOU doing? Many of you are fearful of disease. Some of you have parents who are high risk. Others face job insecurity and economic instability. A few of you are stranded far from home, wondering if you will see your family soon. I am so sorry for what you have to face. But I am thankful that we have Creator who knows you and loves you and is active in your life right now reaching out to you with His mercy and grace. How can I pray for you when I next meet with Him?

Because of the slowdown of our court and medical systems, my anticipated disability hearing and my upcoming appointment at the University of Arkansas Medical School seem to be on hold. This is a challenge considering I haven’t worked since July 1st. Yet, when our family met to talk about some of our virus worries and concerns, not one of us had anxiety over God’s provision. We have complete confidence He will lovingly meet our needs. I am praying about some possible ministry opportunities that I can do from home, but in a time when 50% of nonprofits may close, should I think of starting another one? Please pray for God’s provision for our family and that I will know and obey God’s will.

I don’t get out often, but before I got sick, I was able to tag along with some friends so I could attend a very special meeting in Texas. Part of the Spanish Central District is combining with the Southwestern District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. There was some concern that people would resist or struggle with this big change, but as we met a wonderful unity filled the place as the Holy Spirit visited. The transition will have some obstacles, but we will face them together for God’s glory. I haven’t been able to see my Alliance family for several years, so I greatly enjoyed the reunion.

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Our small church continues to pray for each other even as we are unable to meet. We are unable to have any type of service online in the Ozark hills, so we are making use of the old-fashioned telephone. We are sad that a dear exchange student from Poland who was hosted by a church family had to go home early. We will miss her!

Can I ask a favor of you? Here are the email addresses of our family members. Please send a short note to one of them to encourage them. I am sure they could use it trying to live with a guy who has to stay in one corner of one small room. Victoria could really use a kind word as they wedding plan in these uncertain times.

leah.janie.maria@gmail.com, rebekah.hope.heinen@gmail.com, v.heinen012@gmail.com, mariaheinen7301@gmail.com

We love and appreciate you! Please let us know how we can pray for you.

Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – February 2020

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Friends, in this season of celebrating love, may we not forget the greatest love ever – the love our Heavenly Father has for us.  If you have not fully experienced the everlasting love of God that literally transforms us into brand new people, please message me.  I would love to tell you about it.

Speaking of love – Rebekah and Tim are married!  In all the wedding ceremonies I have been a part of, I never saw a bride glow like Rebekah.  I know Tim dearly loves his new bride.  What a joy to see two people brought together by Jesus!  They are now settling down to live together in New Jersey.  We miss them terribly, but are so thankful for all that Jesus has done in them and for them.

Victoria is working in an adjunct position at Russellville High School while she prepares for her own wedding in May.  Noah is now renting a home that he will share with Victoria after their special day.  Maria is continuing her studies at Arkansas Tech University’s elementary education program, which was recently recognized as one of the best programs in the country for teaching reading to students.  We are so proud of both of our soon-to-be teachers.

In the past few months, Leah and I survived the holidays, two graduations, a wedding, and having our oldest move away.  What joyous, exhausting experiences!  In addition to her mental challenges, her constant pain, her stomach ailments, her kidney disease, her fatigue, and having to put up with her husband, Leah is now possibly facing surgery for her arthritic knees.  Please pray for God’s healing touch and His sustaining grace.

I continue to wait for my appointment at the University of Arkansas Medical School.  My left foot has a deep wound that is slow to heal, so I am once again wearing a boot.  Someone mentioned to me that they feel bad that I can’t walk.  I can walk, but I do look a bit like Frankenstein’s monster when I do.  The boot further complicates matters.  Driving continues to be a challenge.  My hands are experiencing increasing pain.  I also am still waiting for my disability hearing.  Please pray for our Lord’s provision, as Leah cannot work and I have not worked since the beginning of last July.  We are praying for everything to work out for God’s glory!

May I also ask you to pray that God will reveal to me a little bit of what my future looks like?  I pray daily for complete healing so I can return to some type of employment and ministry.  Yet, I also pray for God’s strength and peace if the rest of my life includes the limitations I now face.  If I am not healed in the way I desire, what will my purpose be for the rest of my life?  I enjoy the growing opportunities I now have to spend time alone with God and to intercede for others.  Leah and I have more time to pray together.  Leah prays for hours throughout the night when she can’t sleep.  I am amazed by her intimacy with our Savior.  Now she can share a little of that with me.  Yet, is there something more we can do with our lives?  Please pray that God will give me wisdom for the days ahead.

I began this update focusing on love.  Once again, Leah and I need to express our gratitude for how God has showered His love upon us through His people.  The messages of encouragement keep our hearts strong and trusting in Jesus.  We even had a college friend go out of her way as she traveled cross-country to stop by to visit us.  People we have not had contact with for decades have reached out to us.  We are so blessed to have all of you in our lives!

Let me close with another reminder of God’s love for us.  What makes us understand the enormity of God’s love is when we comprehend the meaning of a little word called sin.  Sin is what keeps us from experiencing God’s love.  It is when we choose our independence instead of living lives submitted to the God of love who created us.  Because of our sin, we are unable to do what God says is right.  The Bible says we all fall short of God’s standard.  And because God is love, He sent His Son to do what we could never do.  Jesus lived a perfect life for us that we could never live.  He died a death we should have died to pay the penalty for our sin so we can live.  The righteous life of Jesus satisfied God’s requirements.  His resurrected life is a guarantee that all who accept His gift of forgiveness and new life will also live forever embraced by His love.  He offers His love to you.  Just receive it by trusting completely in all He has done for you.

If you have any questions about this, go to the “about” page of my website and view the “What is Christianity?” video.  Contact me using the information below.  Remember we pray for our family and friends!  Let us know how we can pray for you.

Brian

Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

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HEINEN HAPPENINGS – January 2020

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God is so good!  The Arkansas Heinen clan is two days away from celebrating the marriage of Timothy Thorpe to Rebekah Heinen.  (We will have pictures in the next newsletter!)  Victoria and her fiance, Noah, are busy planning their May wedding.  Maria is back on campus and is enjoying her new semester at Arkansas Tech University.  God has blessed our children in such wonderful ways.

Our December was filled with holiday celebrations.  Maria and Rebekah directed the Christmas program at church.  They did a terrific job organizing the chaos that occurs when the majority of the actors are under the age of 6.  I have to admit, I have never seen the Christmas story presented like that before.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Maria, Victoria, and Noah drove me to Wisconsin for the gathering of the Heinens for Christmas.  For the first time in fourteen years, all us kids were together, along with most of our family members.  It was a glorious time.  We then visited my mother and step-father before we made the 13-hour trip home.  I am so thankful to the kids for driving me home, especially as my own ability to travel is so limited and my parents are getting older.

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Leah was not able to make trip.  Rebekah stayed with her and prepared for her wedding.  Leah recently had some good doctor visits.  Please pray for her to be strong enough to enjoy the wedding.

Daily, I face the limitations that come with decreased use of my feet/legs and hands/arms.  Yet, God continues to pour out His mercy and grace on every part of our lives.  One again, I need to thank all who have prayed for us and generously encouraged us over the past months.  God used you to daily renew our hope.  The Go Fund Me page our girls set up is being deactivated, but if any of you would like to help in the future, this web page has a PayPal button at the bottom of most pages.  Please pray that my disability hearing will be held soon.

I am spending time seeking God as to what my future ministry life looks like.  Please pray I will hear His voice.

We love you!  Please contact us as to how we can pray for you.

Brian

Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – December 2019

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May the Christ of Christmas fill your hearts with renewed wonder as you more fully realize who He is and all that He has done for you!

This past month has been one of incredible blessing. Victoria celebrated her 23rd birthday yesterday by conducting a few songs at the Dover High School Christmas concert. She completed her student teaching at Dover and will graduate from Arkansas Tech University this Saturday. Oh, yeah – she also got engaged to Noah Greenawalt! They anticipate a wedding sometime later in 2020.

Maria finished her first semester at ATU. She loves college and has yet to receive anything lower than an “A” at any level of her education. Rebekah graduated with her Master of Social Work degree. She is finishing plans for her January wedding to Tim Thorpe and is packing for her move to New Jersey right after the wedding. Leah continues to be the World’s Best Mom to her busy girls. Leah’s health challenges remain, but so does her rock-solid faith in her rock-solid Savior. My “severe axonopathic polyneuropathy” continues to progress, slowly making use of my hands more difficult as it also creeps up my legs. I am still in the long process of being approved for disabilty. Through my physical and financial struggles, I am once again forced to be completely dependent upon my Lord, and He constantly proves Himself faithful.

We are absolutely overwhelmed by the extremely generous help we received from family, friends, acquaintances, and even from a few strangers. We are deeply humbled and thankful. We are current in our house and car payments and have not had the lights turned off, even though I have not worked since July 1st. You have no idea how much peace your gifts have brought to our hearts. Your emails, cards, and messages daily give us courage to continue to trust the goodness of Jesus. God has given us all of you as a very special gift this Christmas season. We appreciate you! And may God bless you as you have blessed us!

The go fund me page the girls started is still active – https://www.gofundme.com/f/heinen-family-in-need. Again, thank you so much for blessing us with your gifts!

If you do not have a church home and live in the Arkansas River Valley, feel free to visit us at the Appleton Cumberland Presbyterian Church on December 22nd for our Christmas program. The fun starts at 10 A.M., and we never know what to expect from our kids as they remind us why Jesus was born in Bethlehem so long ago. Message me for directions.

Here is a final “Merry Christmas” picture from our girls (and Noah!).

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Brian

Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – November 2019

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In this season of giving thanks, may you be more aware than ever of God’s love for you and His amazing grace that is offered to you.  Truly, “His love endures forever.”

Leah and I have so much to be thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving.  Our girls continue to amaze us and bless us.  Maria is a terrific student at Arkansas Tech University.  She just received news she can graduate a semester early.  She invited me to the homecoming game for ATU last month.  Rebekah drove me to the campus and Maria escorted me in as I limped up the ramp into the seating area.  Even though they lost, it was a lot of fun.  Maria continues to encourage our church family, teaching an upcoming Thanksgiving devotional and directing the Christmas play, both with her sister.

Victoria is just weeks away from finishing her student teaching.  She will be working at her alma mater, Russellville High School, in an adjunct position in the spring semester.  After that, the sky is the limit!  Her boyfriend, Noah, just landed a great job.  She is super involved during this season of school plays and Christmas concerts, and is loving every minute of it.  She surprised me by coming to our church on my birthday.

Rebekah is weeks away from finishing her internship and her Master of Social Work degree.  They will really miss her at the senior adult center where she has worked for the past year.  And she is just a few months away from marrying Tim and moving to New Jersey, where they being an exciting life and ministry together.  It looks like they have found a place to rent!  Please pray for her healing, as she continues to struggle with immune system issues that are yet to be accurately diagnosed.

leah and iLeah and I will celebrate 33 years together in a few days.  How blessed I am to have someone who radiates Jesus and encourages me with her love and wisdom.  Her health issues don’t get any better, but she continues to trust our Savior in a way that inspires me and glorifies our Lord.  Please pray for her complete healing.  We were lamenting today that her health problems and the medications she takes have robbed her of her beautiful singing voice.  Please pray that she will be able to sing again!

Many of you have asked for more information about my own health needs.  I am diagnosed with severe axonopathic polyneuropathy.  My feet have no feeling left, and my ankles and lower legs are severely numb.  My ability to drive is extremely limited and I walk like I am inebriated.  My hands have constant pins and needles pain and numbness which impact my fine motor skills.  Writing and computer work are difficult.  The symptoms continue to progress.  My wonderful team of doctors are unable to find a cause and are trying to set up an appointment with a very busy neuromuscular specialist at the medical school in Little Rock.  I have been on medical leave from work since July 1st.  That leave ended today.  Many of you know our financial difficulties over the years and realize that we do not have resources to fall back on.  I am working with a great lawyer to try to get disability, but the process seems to take forever.  (Leah does not qualify, as she does not have enough work credits.)  We survive simply because of the extreme generosity of our dear friends and family.  We are so thankful for you!  We continue to pray for our daily bread and depend upon the One who provides.  We never know how the bills this month will be paid, but He remains faithful!

I hesitate to write this, but if you feel led to give, the girls set up a Go Fund Me set up to help pay some medical and everyday living bills.  Thank you to everyone who has already given!  I am blown away by the love and support we have received.

https://www.gofundme.com/heinen-family-in-need

Leah and I were discussing the topic of thanksgiving lately.  She has lost so much because of her health trials over the years, but she remains so thankful to our Savior!  I more recently lost my mobility, my ministry, my profession, and now my ability to work and provide for my family.  I can easily begin a big pity party, but because of her example and the encouragement of Scripture, my loss is now turning into praise.  I am incredibly thankful for the little things I experience each day.  I can’t drive, but when I can walk into the backyard or across the street to go to the mailbox, I am grateful!  I can’t work, but when I can do a load of laundry my heart is filled with praise!  I can’t pastor, but when when my daughters drive me to our wonderful little church and I can expound on the good news of the gospel, I cannot help but get alone with my Lord and give Him glory!  I am so thankful for each moment’s breath, for all the wonderful people I come in contact with each day, and for the presence of my Heavenly Father who never leaves me nor forsakes me!

Some wonder why our family struggles so.  Weary friends question why the bad news never seems to go away.  Many ponder what secret sin we are harboring that has brought God’s punishment into our lives.  Others have thought out loud how weak our faith must be for our lives to be as they are.  Maybe my faith is weak, but while I may not be able to rejoice in the greatness of my faith, I do marvel at the greatness of the One who is the object of my faith.  Our family does face constant trouble, but remember the words of Jesus:  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).  You have trouble, too!  It may look different than ours, but you have it.  And when you are overwhelmed by it all, please remember the last part of the verse – we can take heart, because He has overcome the world!

Brian

Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765    brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

 

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – October 2019

Man-at-crossCome to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)

From Leah:  I chose this verse to encourage you all. It has been a verse that has stuck with me for many years and means a lot to me. Blessings!

 

From Rebekah:  I wanted to thank all of our friends who have showered our family with encouragement, generosity, and love.  Life has been crazy this past month, but God has shown Himself faithful time and again by giving us Scripture, songs, and encouragement from loved ones to keep us going.

Dad’s health continues to deteriorate. He has been to various specialists and doctors. It is a bit discouraging to experience how long every medical process seems to take. Every new referral, every part of the disability process, and every waiting period for test results bring more questions than answers. Currently our family doctor is trying to send Daddy to UAMS for more testing to see why in the world his nerve damage is rapidly progressing.

Amidst all that chaos, life has also been moving fast for all of us girls as well! Maria is doing great in her first semester of college. She says her classes are easier than high school haha.

Victoria is so close to graduating! She will have her choral music teaching degree in December! Right now she is enjoying finishing up student teaching, leading voice and piano lessons, and giving googly love-eyes to her man. 😉

My life is revving up too! I will be done with my Masters Degree in Social Work in December. I am absolutely loving my internship working with geriatric patients, and I will miss them dearly. I also am only 91 days away from getting MARRIED to the love of my life, Timothy Thorpe!! We had a beautiful shower last weekend at Church, and it is all getting sooo real. I am blessed to have this time left with my family before moving away to be with my honey in New Jersey.

We are all in different seasons of life but God is showing Himself to be faithful in them all. Every step He proves His goodness. Every second He whispers His love. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of helping us keep our eyes on Jesus through the thick and thin of our crazy lives.

If you would please be praying for all of us in this transition and also as we face the uncertainty (money-related and otherwise) of Daddy’s medical problems we would appreciate it! Please let us know how we can pray for you too! My momma especially is a super-prayer warrior and would love to lift your needs to our loving Heavenly Father.

And if you feel led to give, we also have a Go Fund Me set up to help pay some medical and everyday living bills. Thank you to everyone who has already given! I am blown away by the love and support we have received.

https://www.gofundme.com/heinen-family-in-need  

 Now all glory to God, Who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT)

Heinen Happenings – August 2019

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3

Once again, as I share with family and friends the incredible ways the Lord blesses us, I must focus on how our Father has blessed our children.

Rebekah is engaged!  Our oldest is marrying Tim, an amazing gentleman who has experienced God’s grace in a life-transforming way.  They love their Savior dearly, and that love has drawn them together for a lifetime of love and service to our King.  God is good!

Victoria begins her student teaching soon in the music department of a neighboring community.  She also teaches voice lessons in a local music center.  She is in a relationship with a terrific young man, Noah.

Maria begins her first year of college in a few weeks and will be rooming with her best friend, Elizabeth.  Arkansas Tech University, watch out!

Please pray for our girls to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus and to continue to love and serve Him faithfully all of their lives.

Also pray for Leah, who continues to battle physical issues.  She experiences constant pain and exhaustion, but shines the light of Christ every day!  Pray that she will have the health and strength to be part of wedding plans and all the other wonderful things that our girls are experiencing.

Many have asked about my own health.  I am struggling with neuropathy, which started some time ago in my feet, but is now spreading up to my knees.  I am not able to drive very well as a result.  My balance is off, and I occasionally stumble or fall.  My hands experience pain and numbness, which makes writing and turning the pages of my Bible difficult.  I sometimes drop things, including Leah’s serving bowl and platter – sorry, Sweetie!

I am under the care of four great doctors who are trying to figure things out.  My neurologist recently tripled my medication, which seems to be helping a little.  Many more tests are in my immediate future.  I have been off of work since July 1st.  Please pray for God’s provision with no paychecks and many medical bills.  And please pray I will glorify God through it all!

We so love and appreciate our many friends who faithfully pray for us and encourage us in a multitude of ways.  Please contact us with your own prayer needs and praises.  May God bless you with His presence and peace!

Brian

Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765    brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

 

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – July 2019

Friends, I apologize for not writing many recent updates.  My explanation will be clarified below.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits… (Psalm 103:1–2)

I want to start this update by thanking our Lord for the many blessings He has poured out upon our family!

Rebekah is really enjoying the internship for her Masters of Social Work, and is powering her way through some difficult, but rewarding final classes.  The place where she works would love to hire her upon completion, as her coworkers and clients adore her and appreciate her hard and competent work.  She is in a relationship with Tim, a young man who deeply loves Jesus.

Victoria finished her senior year at Arkansas Tech University, which included her final choir concerts and events.  She did a great job with her senior vocal recital.  This fall, she will complete her student teaching at a school in a nearby community as her Vocal Music Education program lasts 4 1/2 semesters.  She is in a relationship with Noah, a fine young man she met on the worship team at their church.

Maria graduated from Russellville High School, never earning anything but A’s her entire school career.  She also earned many scholarships that will fully pay for her education at Arkansas Tech University, which she begins in the fall.  She tearfully finished her final choir concerts and play performances at RHS, including choir trips to Washington D.C. and Carnegie Hall in New York City.

We are SO thankful to God for how he has blessed our girls!  Please pray they continue to fall in love with Jesus more every day.

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Leah continues to exhibit her love for her Savior and her incredible faith in Him, in spite of her many physical challenges.  She is home-bound except for doctor appointments and choir concerts and play performances as she is able.  Please pray for God to bless her with His healing and sustaining grace.

I am blessed with a great job as hospice chaplain.  I am part of an incredible team that serves equally incredible patients and their families.  I also am thankful to shepherd a fine Cumberland Presbyterian congregation with a group of people who love Jesus and continually love our family.

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I am asking prayer for myself this update, as I too am battling physical challenges.  I resigned from my denominational district position due to decline in my health.  I really loved serving our wonderful district family!  For years I struggled with non-diabetic neuropathy, which numbed my feet.  It is now spreading to my ankles, lower legs, and hands.  One of the reasons I do not do monthly updates is because computer work is more difficult with my non-cooperative fingers.  My main concern is that due to my numb feet and legs, I am now experiencing loss of balance and muscle failure that prevents me from driving.  I cannot drive when my feet cannot feel the pedals and when my feet and ankles lose control.  If I cannot drive, I cannot work or take care of my family.  Please pray for me!

We so love and appreciate our many friends who faithfully pray for us and encourage us in a multitude of ways.  Please contact us with your own prayer needs and praises.  May God bless you with His presence and peace!

Brian

Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765    brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

Heinen Happenings – December 2018

Wow look at Mariah

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.   Isaiah 9:2 ESV

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.   Isaiah 25:8 ESV

Jesus, the Light of the World, has come! Even the deepest darkness of death itself is swallowed up by His glorious light. Whatever darkness you find yourself in right now, turn to the Light.

On this First Sunday in Advent, I hope these words encourage you to seek Jesus in a fresh way this holiday season.

It has been a long time since I last shared an update about our family.  Here is a summary of what has happened:

–Rebekah continues to work as an intern at a local agency for her M.S.W. degree.  The employees and the clients love her!  She recently traveled to Iowa for a friend’s wedding and had a great time reconnecting with friends.  She is very active in our church teaching, singing, and writing/directing the Christmas program.  Please pray for her as she struggles with thyroid/immune system issues.

SUp it's bEkah

–Today, Victoria had her final Feast of Carols concert with the Arkansas Tech University Choir.  She was even able to conduct “Carol of the Bells”!  She also is very involved in her church serving on the worship team and leading a girl’s small group.  Please pray for her as she finishes up her senior year and begins her internship in vocal music education.

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–Maria is looking forward to a spring choir trip where the RHS choir will travel to New York to participate in a festival at Carnegie Hall.  She also has an upcoming Christmas concert.  Her one-act play did very well in a recent competition.  She was honored to write and direct the drama for our community Veteran’s Day celebration.  She also is enjoying serving at our church.  Please pray for her to finish her high school experience strong.

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Please pray for all of our girls to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ!

–Leah continues to struggle with various health issues, but remains the heart and soul of our family.  Her faith is incredibly strong even though she faces daily challenges.  Her beloved brother died recently.  Pray for her to experience the Shalom (peace, completeness) of Jesus Christ!

–I am very busy working three part-time jobs.  I love being a chaplain with Arkansas Hospice.  I work with an awesome team and together we serve incredible clients and their families.  I also work as an administrative assistant with my denomination’s district office.  Our wonderful district superintendent is moving on after many years of faithful service, so my employment at the district may change soon.  I also am the interim pastor at a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in nearby Appleton, Arkansas.  We could not ask for a more loving and encouraging church family.  While I am not ordained in the CPC denomination, the people have embraced me as their “pastor.”  They even put my name on their sign!  Please pray for me to have the health and energy to do all I do for the glory of my Savior!

We so love and appreciate our many friends who faithfully pray for us and encourage us in a multitude of ways.  I am so sorry that with my busy schedule and exhausted body, I have not kept in touch.  May God bless you with His presence and peace!

Brian

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Brian Heinen 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

HEINEN HAPPENINGS – August 2018

Email newsletter of the Heinen family: Brian, Leah, Rebekah, Victoria and Maria

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3-5 ESV)

We pray for our friends and neighbors!  How can we pray for you?  Send your requests to my email address listed below.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits… Ps 103:1-2

We have much to bless God for…

–Leah had a good report from the doctor, showing no further damage to her kidneys.  Her diabetes is under control.  She recently had to go through some tests for her heart, which all turned out well.  She has a stress test this week.  Please pray for her struggle with pain and exhaustion.

–Rebekah starts her MSW internship next week.  Please pray for her health, especially her hypothyroidism.

–Victoria continues to be involved in various leadership positions in her church.  She loves the girls in her small group!  She starts her senior year in college next week.

–Maria had a great start to her senior year in high school.  She is involved in the small group Victoria leads and also in the church where Brian is preaching.

–Brian is enjoying his part-time opportunities with hospice, with his denominational district, and with the small church where he is interim pastor.  It is amazing how many wonderful opportunities to share the love and truth of Jesus arise.  Please pray for his neuropathy in his hands and feet to be healed, as well as the wound on his foot, which has been an issue for many months.

–While we are thankful for the opportunities we have to bless our neighbors, we feel that God brought us to this neighborhood for a purpose.  Pray that we will have the time, health, energy, resources, and opportunities to reach these special people with the mercy and grace of our Savior.

The entire family has been blessed by the encouragement, generosity, and prayers of so many friends.  Y’all have been conduits of God’s amazing grace to our lives.  We love you and appreciate you!

–The church, the Appleton Cumberland Presbyterian Church, is very responsive to the ministry of Jesus Christ that is taking place.  While the number of people in the congregation is very small in number, the hearts of the people are deeply devoted to Jesus.  Rebekah and Maria are making a real difference among the children who attend.

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Brian Heinen 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

Valuing Life – A Pastor’s Perspective

I have always valued life – or so I thought. I remember from my teen years on how I believed the Bible when it said that I was made in the image and likeness of God. I was thankful that I was “fearfully and wonderfully made” by my heavenly Father and that He had “formed and covered me in my mother’s womb.” I worked for a time at a ministry in Texas called “Last Days Ministries,” which had a branch called “Americans Against Abortion.” I served in the print shop there, and one of the most popular tracts we printed was called, “Children – Things We Throw Away.” Later, when I became a pastor, I faithfully ordered bulletin inserts for “Sanctity of Life Sunday” and preached about how God is the giver of life. I proclaimed that He alone decides when our lives begin and end. I was a hospital and nursing home chaplain and served on the ethics committee of our local hospital. I often had to help the sick and suffering see that even their lives had great value and that to end their lives prematurely would be a tragedy. Yet, none of this prepared me for that trip to my wife’s OB-GYN.

We were expecting our second child. Rebekah Hope was 2 at the time. We went to our 20 week appointment and looked forward to seeing our little one on the ultrasound. As the nurse midwife viewed the screen, I noticed that she didn’t respond to my wife’s jokes and that her face turned very pale. She excused herself and rushed out of the room. A few minutes later, she returned with the doctor, a kind immigrant from Czechoslovakia who was always smiling. He suddenly became serious and silent – until he worked up the courage to tell us the news. They couldn’t find any kidneys in our baby. As such, the amniotic fluid would not be replenished once it was used up. Without amniotic fluid, the lungs wouldn’t develop, as the lungs are strengthened when the baby in the womb breathes that life-sustaining liquid in and out. He immediately set up an appointment for us at the Ohio State Medical Center.

On our first appointment, we met with two doctors who both assumed we were coming in to set up a time to abort. They were shocked to hear my wife, Leah, explain that she believed that the same God who gave her baby life could heal her baby, but that even if He didn’t, it was not her right to end a life that He had given. They explained to her that the baby would probably be carried close to full term but would die soon after birth. Each time she felt the baby kick, she would be reminded that she was carrying a baby with a death sentence. “Why go through the heartache?” they asked her. “Why risk your own health? Why not end it now and try again?” They introduced us to a geneticist who would “test” fetuses in future pregnancies and would tell us when to abort until we could finally get one that was healthy. My wife stood firm. Over what seemed to be never-ending visits to many different doctors, the professionals realized that they couldn’t change my wife’s mind. Her courage amazed me. Her faith humbled me. We soon became a “teaching” case because of this rare disease. I looked forward to the hours of ultrasounds, realizing that seeing my daughter on the screen might be my only chance to get to know her.

Our little Christina Joy lived one hour after the delivery. She peacefully stopped breathing in our arms not long after we heard the hospital sound system play the bells that celebrated the birth of a child. We put her tiny casket in the trunk of our car and drove her to Wisconsin, where she was buried next to my brother, who had also died in infancy. Not knowing if we would be able to have more children, God has since blessed us with Victoria Grace and Maria Faith. O, how I value their precious lives! And how I value the courage of people like my wife, Leah, who have the faith and strength to live out their convictions and who stand up and let their voices be heard.

Compassion Fatigue

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

I first came upon the idea of “compassion fatigue” when I was working at a rescue mission.  Many times, those who begin serving the poor, marginalized, and wounded because of a true desire to help, after a time become cynical, suspicious, and hardened.  Sometimes dealing with difficult situations involves dealing with difficult people.  Not all those you deal with are difficult, but there are enough out there to make even the most caring grow cold.  Trying to help those truly needy means that others will take advantage of you.  It is easy to justify this “fatigue.”  After all, aren’t we told not to cast our “pearls before swine”?  Aren’t we to be “wise stewards” of our Lord’s resources?

The late Keith Green reminded us that the only way to never be taken advantage of is to never help anyone at all.  Daily, I try to ask the Lord to help my heart stay soft as I deal with people, or I fear I, too, could develop “compassion fatigue.”  And as I pray for my own heart, I am reminded that my compassionate Lord never grows tired of me.

I don’t deserve God’s grace.  When I ask for His help, it is sometimes because I got into trouble because of things I did wrong.  Maybe I didn’t act wisely.  Perhaps I made a serious mistake.  Possibly I am suffering because I sinned against the very God I am asking for rescue.  Yet He hears my cry and redeems.  I don’t receive His aid because I deserve it.  I receive it because He is longsuffering, good, kind, and merciful.

Is it a good (or even spiritual) thing to refuse to help people because they have proven they are not worthy of help?  I can hear the thoughts of some as they read these words.  “We need to be careful to give people what they need, not just what they want or are asking for.”  “If I give this person money, they will spend it on drugs.”  “Maybe this person needs to suffer the consequences of their poor choices so that they learn a lesson.”  These things can be true, and remind us that we need to help wisely.  We need to help them in a way that truly helps them.  Yet, we need to help them – not give up because we may possibly be taken advantage of.

There is even another level to this.  Let’s say that someone is trying to take advantage of you.  Let’s say they will spend what you give them on drugs.  Maybe they are hopelessly addicted because of poor choices and sin.  Do we then not help them?  Do we let them starve?

What if our judgment about them is wrong?  What if like Job’s friends, we see their suffering through the lens of our own faulty experience?  What if they are actually suffering because they are more righteous than we are?

As a pastor, I observed this problem in the church.  Often those who are needy are “put up with” impatiently by the people of God.  Sometimes needy people are helped for a time, but when they don’t experience “instant sanctification” those who are helping grow weary.  When helpers grow weary it is easy to grow distant.  They don’t make phone calls as often to check up on their “friend.”  After a while, the phone calls stop as they focus instead on people and projects that yield quicker results.  We are rightly told to focus on our strengths and not just our weaknesses if we are to accomplish more for God.  Doesn’t this also mean that we should focus on people experiencing success rather than failure?  After all, needy people drain us and take up all our time, and when we share their stories during testimony time or in our latest newsletter, it is not very impressive.  So, we ignore and then forget those who are needy.  And they silently stop attending our churches, and no one even notices.

Similarly, lately I have been contacted by pastors who were in the licensing/ordination process in various denominations.  Because they were dealing with personal or church-related problems, or even when they were faithful but were not experiencing impressive results, their mentors and leaders shifted focus to those charismatic, type-A pastors who were seen as being quite successful.  My now ex-pastor friends stopped receiving phone calls from their mentors.  They faded into the woodwork and seemingly disappeared.  And no one in their denomination/association even noticed them disappear.

I often fail God.  I often live Romans 7: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”  And what does God do?  Every morning, after I failed the day previously, He reminds me of Romans 8: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Why does He do this?  It is because Lamentations is true: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Should I not extend this same undeserved compassion that I received from God to others?

 

Slow to Speak

Like many of you, this past week has been filled with many tears and unceasing prayer as almost daily I hear of the loss of lives of those made in God’s image and as I think of their dear families now filled with questions, pain, and overwhelming grief.  The most recent news reports try to figure out why the lives of brave police officers who were protecting the rights of those protesting against the police could be snuffed out so violently.  I sometimes write things down to figure out what is in my heart and mind, so please allow me to do just that and add words to the multitude of things that have already been written and said.

I grieve over those who are gone.  Some no longer have the chance to hear about the everlasting love of our Savior.  How do family members now face the days ahead without those who were so special to them?

I am amazed at the continually increasing divisions our country is experiencing.  Politically we have been aware of this divide for some time.  We are now becoming more and more aware of the gap between people of different races, economic classes, and _________ – you fill in the blank.  We had hoped that many of those gaps were shrinking, but are now wondering if the distance is instead increasing.  People with loud voices and various causes use their volume to take advantage of this divide for their own benefit and amusement.  The result is that these gaps get bigger, fear grips our hearts because of what we are told of those on the other side of the gaps and anger becomes what motivates us to action.  Everyone seems to have a voice and much to say, but few seem to have any desire to listen.

The Holy Spirit through the pen of James told us, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  Notice the progression – we need to be very quick to listen.  We must do that first, before we speak.  We must hear the other person and really listen.  This includes mulling over what they just said.  We must think about what they said and why they said it.  Even if we disagree with what we just heard, if we listen perhaps we will understand why they said it, at least a little bit.  We should be quick to listen – but then slow to speak.  Too often we aren’t really listening because we are thinking about what we are about to say.  Our priority is not about the other person, it is all about us – what we feel, what we think and what we know should be done.  Isn’t this what arguments consist of – no listening, fast talking and the next step, anger?  No wonder we are so angry.  We all have too much to say and too many opinions to share.  And now with social media, we can share our words instantly with the world.  (Yes, it is a bit ironic that I am sharing my words with the world right now.)

Now to the grief of today.  Can’t we take some time to grieve?  Can’t we allow families to start to say good-bye to their loved ones before we use their loved ones to further our favorite cause?  Can’t we be silent as they share their doubts, their fears, their questions and their anger?  Can’t we give them our presence and our hugs, but hold off on our words?  There will be a time to talk about these causes.  Some of them are really important.  But do we need to talk about them today?

Followers of Jesus Christ, we have much to say to an angry, divided world.  We have words of comfort to share with the grieving from the God of all comfort, Himself.  We have words of hope about a Redeeming Savior that this world needs to hear.  He is our only Hope!  He is the One who can reconcile sinners like us to a Holy God such as He is, and then help us reconcile to each other.  We are messengers of reconciliation!  But let’s share this wonderful message after we have really listened to this hurting world.

 

To Leaders of Large Churches

Dear brothers and sisters in large churches,
As a pastor of a small church, I dare not try to speak for all small church pastors and leaders, but I do think a few of my small church brethren might share some of my sentiments. So, please allow me to write down a few thoughts that have been heavy on my heart.

First of all, can I say a big “thank you” for all you do in our community for the sake of our King and His Kingdom? I agree with Paul when he wrote to the Philippians, “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, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6, NIV)

When I think of you and what God is doing in and through you, I rejoice! You see multitudes of people pass from darkness into light as they are transformed by Christ and His amazing grace. I join the angels in heaven, as they rejoice over these souls that are saved. I am filled with joy when I think of addicts being set free by the Holy Spirit, wounded partners in marriage finding forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ, and the poor in our community receiving not only a cup of cold water in Jesus’ Name, but also hope and healing in that same Name. Your army of workers for the sake of the gospel make that possible. Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for having a God-honoring voice in the community we all love. Sometimes someone needs to speak up for the sake of righteousness, and you have a voice that is heard. Thank you for the times you courageously stand up for truth, as you at the same time extend Jesus’ love. Thank you for your servant-leadership given to all in our city, as you serve and lead both great and small. I appreciate you!

Thank you for bringing exciting, Christ-exalting events to our community. Because of you and your generosity, our entire city can enjoy wonderful music and gifted preaching, as you bring talented evangelists and musicians to town. Thanks for hosting these events, and thank you for inviting us all. This same generosity enables the wonderful, grace-giving, mercy ministries in our area to have the people and resources they need to make the big difference they make.
Thank you – a thousand times thank you – for all you are and all you do in Christ. I am thankful for you, and I do pray for you, because I see us truly as partners in the gospel.

I love the word behind that English word, “partnership.” “Koinonia” is translated in various translations as “partnership, communion or fellowship.” But this deep camaraderie is not just an enjoyment of each other’s company; it is “partnership for a purpose, communion for a cause, fellowship to further the Kingdom.” I enjoy our friendship. I am encouraged by you and your love. But I see our relationship as more than that – we are together to extend the good news of the gospel of Jesus to those in our community who do not yet understand who He is and what He came to do. Thanks for letting me work with you.

Can I also add a word of confession? While I am truly thankful for you, sometimes the green-eyed monster of envy rises up in the hearts of those of us in the small church. I admit that at times I have been jealous of your numbers, your budgets and your fame. Please forgive me.

Forgive me that sometimes those of us in small churches sometimes try to justify our bad attitudes. “They must not really preach the gospel in that church!” we might say. “They are a mile wide and an inch deep!” I know that over-generalizing tends to get us in trouble. As is true in our small churches, not all of your fellowships are deep or faithful. But many of you are. Thank you to those who are.

Can I make another confession? Small churches are small for a reason. Sometimes (and I use that word very purposefully)… sometimes our church families are small because God has called us to be small and to serve Him as such. Many times churches are small because they are not healthy, and sick bodies will not grow, but will over time shrivel up and die. As we pray for you, will you pray for us to experience fullness and health in Christ?

I wasn’t thinking of these things recently, but something happened that brought them to my attention. My daughter, who is in college being trained for Christian ministry, for some God-ordained reason, chose to serve her college internship in our small church. Some thought it was the easy route – that she wasn’t challenging herself enough by going home. I knew it would be the hardest thing she ever did.

She is an extremely gifted young lady who loves Jesus with all of her heart. She has been a “PK” all of her life, did not go through decades of rebellion, but has worked through a myriad of hurts and pains that go along with living in a pastor’s home. She has seen much and has a deep understanding of ministry, in spite of my efforts to shelter her. She has a heart to help the “least of these” by extending God’s mercy in very practical ways as she boldly proclaims God’s truth. I am very proud of her.

And I was extremely proud of her as she began to serve in our church. She worked tirelessly and put together a full week of camp for the children of prisoners. It was the best camp I had ever seen on paper! She worked just as hard developing our church’s first Vacation Bible School in years, with the help of her team, our church’s youth group – all three of them. Did I mention that of the three, two were her younger sisters? She did such a good job, and truly did it for Jesus!

And then the camp was cancelled. Just a few kids signed up, in spite of cards, phone calls, visits, and parents’ meetings. I tried to explain to her that she is learning a valuable lesson – that all of her service was not wasted if it was truly service to the Lord! Then we had the VBS – and our little team faithfully and lovingly served six kids over four days, in spite of hundreds of invitations being extended.

As all of this was going on, we would drive by other churches holding their own VBS’s with parking lots full and kids everywhere. Today, we went to a wonderful event where an incredible church in our town came into our neighborhood and at our local elementary school hosted an exciting festival for the children (and their families) that we had been loving and serving. Hundreds were there when we visited. We rejoiced. And we prayed for good fruit. And I saw something in my daughter’s eye that reveled something deep in her heart.

While she was happy with all that was happening, she couldn’t help but wonder, “Why?” Why did she work for months for one cancelled camp and a tiny VBS? And why did others seem to have “success” we could only dream of? After years of service in small churches, I have grown used to the hours of prayer, study and service for events that never happen or that have just the same few regulars attend. I have shielded my heart from such constant disappointment. I almost expect us on Sunday to have to sing acapella because no musicians show up. Even though I thought she had seen these realities over the years, she was shocked and told my wife, “I don’t know how you and dad do this year after year – I am struggling doing it for a few months.” I do not have answers for her. But it made me want to write to you. Can I share a few thoughts with you, brothers and sisters in the large church?

First, be thankful for what you have. You have been blessed in many ways. I realize that you have problems and disappointments that I could never dream about. But you also are experiencing blessings that some of us may never experience. God has indeed blessed you!

Second, people from our small churches will leave our churches to go be part of your church. I hate to say it this way, but here is the reality (at least in some people’s minds) – we cannot compete with the size, variety, excitement, and excellence that you offer. For better or for worse, many people desire what you have – few desire what we have. They will leave us for you much more than they will leave you for us. When they do, please check with them (or me) to see if they left my church on good terms. I will give them my blessing if they leave seeking health and life! But will you at least ask where they were and why they left? By the way, it would be to your advantage to know if these new people will be a help or a hindrance. I know you desire to grow through conversion growth, but the truth is, most who entered your doors exited mine. Check with me. I will do the same for you.

Lastly, continue to remember those of us in small churches. You are my heroes! I am so thankful for your incredible, fruitful ministry! But can I be honest? I hold those who serve selflessly and faithfully in small churches in even higher esteem. You are my heroes. Those serving in anonymity with constant disappointment are my super-heroes! Why not call up one these servants and invite them to lunch and thank them, too. Continue to invite them to your events, as full-partners and co-laborers in Christ. Return their phone calls and emails. Treat them like they are valuable members of the team, not as distractions from your “real” ministry. And please remember them in prayer, thanking God with joy for the partnership in the gospel that you have with these heroes.
Faithfully yours,
Brian Heinen