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HIGHER GROUND HIKE, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24: Higher Ground is starting off the New Year with a hike to the cross at the Mount McCoy Trail in Simi Valley. This trail offers panoramic views in all directions, including views of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the Channel Islands, Wood Ranch, and Old Boney Mountain. You’ll see multiple plant life, wildflowers, animal life and birds. A must-see for nature lovers! Invite a friend or bring a family member to share the experience. Dogs allowed on leases. A continental breakfast and drinks will be served after the hike.

 

Difficulty: Moderate; Distance: 5 miles. Meet at Starbucks in Camarillo at the Los Posas Shopping Center at 8:30 am. We’ll leave as a group by 8:45 am. Recommended: good hiking shoes, sunscreen, water and a camera for photos. Contact Margie Cantu at mccantu830@verizon.net or 805.660.1187. F

 

YOUTH RESCUE MISSION OUTREACH, SATURDAY, MARCH 3: The youth and their adult leaders will meet at the church facility at 3:45 pm, then drive over to the Oxnard Rescue Mission to serve. Return to Gold Coast Church by 6:30 pm. Contact Christian Schaefer in the Youth Room on Sunday or contact Stuart Baker at 805.427.5528 for more information.

 

BIBLE READING PLAN- FEBRUARY 18-25

 

Sunday                      February 18             Num. 3, 4; Acts 25

Monday                      February 19             Num. 5, 6; Ps. 22; Acts 26

Tuesday                    February 20             Num. 7; Ps. 23; Acts 27

Wednesday              February 21             Num. 8, 9; Acts 28

Thursday                   February 22             Num. 10, 11; Ps. 27; Mark 1

Friday                         February 23             Num. 12, 13; Ps. 90; Mark 2

Saturday                    February 24             Num. 14-16; Mark 3

Sunday                      February 25             Num. 17, 18; Ps. 29; Mark 4

 

STEPHEN MINISTRY: In difficult times, God’s love is especially precious to us, and it is very important to know someone who cares. Our congregation has trained Stephen Ministers who offer a ministry of Christian caring. To find out more about receiving a Stephen Minister’s care, write “Stephen Ministry” on your Connection Card and place it in the offering basket on Sunday or call Art or Rose Flatray at 805.987.1428 for more information.

 

THIS SUNDAY, in our study through the book of Galatians, we’ll look at Galatians 4:8-31. You might want to read it in preparation. Paul is perplexed with the believers in Galatia who are choosing to return to a life of enslavement.

 

John Beukema shares the following: New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof chose two Cambodian prostitutes and attempted to buy their freedom from their brothel owners. He selected young women who were there against their will, willing to tell their story, and actually wanted to leave prostitution.

 

The first woman, Srey Neth, was a simple transaction. For $150, Kristof left with the girl and a receipt. Srey Mom’s situation proved more difficult since the brothel owner demanded more money. Kristof writes:

 

After some grumpy negotiation, the owner accepted $203 as the price for Srey Mom’s freedom. But then Srey Mom told me that she had pawned her cellphone and needed $55 to get it back.

 

“Forget about your cellphone,” I said. “We’ve got to get out of here.”

 

Srey Mom started crying. I told her that she had to choose her cellphone or her freedom, and she ran back to her tiny room in the brothel and locked the door.

 

With Srey Mom sobbing in her room and refusing to be freed without her cellphone, the other prostitutes—her closest friends—began pleading with her to be reasonable.

 

Even the owner of the brothel begged her to “Grab this chance while you can,” but Srey Mom hysterically refused to leave.

 

Srey Mom only stopped crying when Kristov agreed to buy back the cellphone too. Then she asked for her pawned jewelry to be part of the deal.

 

Kristof reflected upon the complex emotions making the decision to leave the brothel so difficult.

I have purchased the freedom of two human beings so I can return them to their villages. But will emancipation help them? Will their families and villages accept them? Or will they, like some other girls rescued from sexual servitude, find freedom so unsettling that they slink back to slavery in the brothels? We’ll see.

 

Beukema reflects: Sometimes we may resemble this woman. Though Christ sets us free from sin and death, how often we choose to live in slavery rather than newness of life.

 

Looking forward to celebrating our freedom in Jesus with you tomorrow,

Scott