Church Blog

Dave & Jen Brewer on Foster Care

October 13 2015 at 10:48 am 0 Comments

On Sunday, we heard from Dave and Jen Brewer about how the Lord has used them as foster parents to minister to children in need in our community. If you're considering getting involved in foster care, or possibly adopting a child, contact The Beloved Ministry for guidance and additional resources.

Dave: Being a foster parent to abused or neglected kids is something that Jen and I had talked about for a number of years, but we put it into the category of “when our kids are out of the house, maybe we could use the space and time to invest into kids in the community.” A pivotal moment that began to change our timeline was when Jen and I started doing short term missions trips. Jen participated on the church missions trip to Uganda, which was an amazing, life changing time for her. She came back and told me she wanted to move our family to Uganda to start an orphanage. I said, “babe, that ain’t happening!” but this thought caused us as a family to ask “Well, we may not be able to move to Uganda to start an orphanage, but where are there orphans in need here in MoCo?” This led to a long, prayerful and deliberate process of our family considering if we should do foster care sooner rather than later. In considering this idea, we asked a lot of questions, sought a lot of counsel, and we simply took the next step we felt God was placing in front of us, all the while praying that he’d make His will clear to us, and by the end of months of classes, interviews, meetings with foster families, we were confidant that this is where God was leading our family.

"Well, we may not be able to move to Uganda to start an orphanage,
but where are there orphans in need here in MoCo?"

Jen: We received our first placement of two children in our home two years ago. They ended up staying in our home for almost a year. Since then, we’ve had three more children in and out of our home. It’s been incredibly rewarding to give our lives to help others, but it has also been incredibly difficult at times as well. But the blessing to our family has far outweighed the challenges, as we have been able to help children right here in MoCo, who have basic needs for things like food, a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear and most importantly, love.

The goal of foster care is reunification with their biological family in the quickest and safest time frame possible. And as you can imagine, that process has its difficulties. You are receiving a child who has been abused or neglected, who was just removed from their family, and is now being dropped off at your home. You get to know these children like they are your own, knowing that one day, at a time undetermined by you, you will be saying goodbye to them and most likely never seeing them again.

Dave: It’s a very difficult proposition…but, a couple things have helped our thinking:

Gensis 3 gives us a framework for understanding how painful this world can be because of the effects of sin. And when Christians step toward meeting needs in this broken and fallen world, that in itself can be painful and messy. Will our hearts get broken? Yes. They will. But they are broken already because we see children in need and hear their stories. James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…”

"'Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…' Who else is going to help these children? I really do believe that Christians should be on the front line of taking-in orphans, kids who have been abused or neglected, and thereby introducing them to saving power of Jesus Christ."

Who else is going to help these children? I really do believe that Christians should be on the front line of taking in orphans, kids who have been abused or neglected, and thereby introducing them to saving power of Jesus Christ. Hopefully, by helping these children, we are teaching OUR OWN children what following Jesus is about. Be a disciple who makes disciples. Be compassionate. Take care of those weaker than you. Share what you have. Love people.

Lastly, we were helped by another foster family in our church, who said, “What an opportunity we have! Whether it’s for a day, week, month or year, we get to love kids and share Jesus with them with as much time as we are given!”  

If foster care or adoption is something you are considering or praying about, feel free to contact The Beloved Ministry for more information.

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Dennis Casteneda’s Testimony

September 15 2015 at 10:04 am 0 Comments

Listen as Dennis Casteneda shares his testimony of God's transformative work in his life, and his call to start and lead the Every Day is Christmas ministry.


Learn more about Dennis' ministry Every Day is Christmas.

Email Dennis to get involved.

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Joy Camp Outreach 2015 | Day 4 & 5

July 21 2015 at 9:16 am 0 Comments

God has blessed the last two days of Joy Camp tremendously. On Thursday evening we had our traditional site cookouts at Laytonia and Johnson’s Park. We cooked hundreds of hot dogs and were able to interact with the campers and many of their families. At the Laytonia cookout the campers were even able to come up and share the “Gospel Chant” they had been learning all week.

Friday was our last day with the campers. At South Lake they had a brief ceremony to celebrate the end of the week since they didn’t have a cookout. Parents were invited, and we called each camper by name to receive their Bible and camp t-shirt.

Friday was also our last day together as a team. We took time in the evening to recount God’s faithfulness by singing, listening to a short teaching, and hearing about how God worked at the different sites.

Johnson Park

  • Because renovations going on at Washington Square and Emory Grove, we weren’t sure how many kids would show up to camp. The leaders visited surrounding neighborhoods on Saturday and handed out flyers to tell people about camp. By the end of the week we were up to 54 kids.
  • During one-on-one time one of the youth was explaining to a camper that in all the Bible stories throughout the week, each person had faith and God loved them. The camper responded, “Wait, God loves us? What if you don’t love God back?” So our volunteer was able to explain the gospel to him.


  • We averaged between 40 and 50 campers.
  • Many campers at Laytonia have professed faith throughout the years, so it is encouraging to go back and remind them of truth.
  • Many of the campers have reached their middle school and high school years and have been coming since the beginning of Joy Camp. The experience is geared for younger kids, but by the second and third day the older kids were able to jump in and participate.
  • Laytonia has a very diverse group of kids, but it's a tight-knit community with a strong sense of love.

South Lake

  • Because this site is an elementary school, our youth went into different classrooms and helped with summer school classes.
  • We heard one first-time camper ask his friend, “Hey, do you believe in God?”
  • Even some of the high school students expressed an interest in coming back next year to Joy Camp, not as campers but as volunteers.
  • Many kids expressed that this was their favorite week of the whole year.
  • During the upcoming school year we are going to partner with the school’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program by providing child care and mini Joy Camps. God is working in unique ways here at South Lake, so please continue to pray for us.

Overall, all of the leaders were encouraged by the youth who have grown up in the church their whole life and are very familiar with the gospel. But seeing them fully invested and being able to apply that knowledge to local missions was incredible. Our group demonstrated love toward each other as well as the campers and grew in unity. Many of the rising freshmen also stepped out of their comfort zones and were bold and courageous in sharing the gospel this week.

Now that Joy Camp is done, pray for each of the families and campers. Pray that they would be reminded of the gospel daily as they look at their Bibles and camp t-shirts. Pray that they would be able to share what they learned at camp with others in their community. Pray for the different churches in our area and around the world. Pray that they would send more laborers for the harvest and that the gospel message would go forth. The same Holy Spirit who helped us this week understand that faith in God’s promises leads to courageous obedience, is the same Spirit working throughout the entire world.

We are looking to do follow-up ministry throughout the year. Here are some ways to get involved:

South Lake

-Monday nights (starting September 28), 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
-Fun, games, Bible study, friendship and help with homework
-To sign up, email Travis Earles


-Saturday, August 15, 10 a.m. - noon, at the Laytonia Community Center
-Fun, games and Bible study
-To volunteer, email Carlos.

Johnson’s Park

-Saturday, July 25 and August 15, 10:30 a.m. - noon, at the Emory Grove Playground
-Fun, games and Bible study
-To volunteer, email Neal Stuckenschneider.

Lastly, we want to thank you for praying for us. This week could not have happened without you interceding for us. We are grateful for you!

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Missions Teahouse Recap

February 18 2015 at 10:43 am 2 Comments

Written with contributions from Beth, Rebecca Duberstein, Valori Maresco, and Sarah Stogsdill. Photos by Pam, Hannah Moore, and Hannah Stogsdill.

If you happened to walk into the church building last Saturday, you were couldn’t help but notice the Women’s Mission Teahouse, a true cross-cultural experience for the ladies of our church. Beth Kraatz and Hannah Stogsdill led the team that transformed the lobby into a Central Asian Teahouse.

The church lobby was dressed with vibrant colors of tablecloths, oriental rugs, floor pillows, more than 50 teapots and hundreds of teacups, all volunteered by different ladies in the church. It was apparent this event was a labor of love for so many. Close to 200 women gathered and lounged around low tables set with a variety of teas and treats including Turkish Delight, dried fruit, almonds, and pastries. The mismatched china was a perfect reminder of the many different homes that had contributed to make it special. Hannah Stogsdill used her artistic eye to combine all these elements to create a beautiful, inviting space in the lobby for learning and fellowship.

“I was blown away by the sense of community I experienced as the women of Covenant Life came together to share their teapots, delicious food, sweet fellowship and prayers.” —Beth

On the morning of the event, the lobby was bustling with ladies of all ages who had arrived early to help. They were filling teapots, stocking hor d’oeuvres, arranging the potluck dishes on the tables. You could feel their excitement and their ownership of the event.

After a time of worship, a missionary from Central Asia, shared about the many challenges facing the Muslim women she knows in the region where she and her husband live and work, and then led us as we prayed together for God to work in the lives of the women of Central Asia.

Following the talk, a magnificent buffet lunch of regional foods was waiting, and while eating, we heard about the experiences of the worship team who had recently traveled to Central Asia.

“The ladies also enthusiastically answered the call to contribute to the potluck lunch. Covenant Life Church is full of good cooks! Nine tables were practically sagging under the weight of the appetizers, entrees, and desserts these ladies brought. Every dish was unique and so tasty! —Rebecca

The testimony of the missionary from Central Asia provoked hearts as she shared about the challenges the women of Central Asia face, but many were encouraged knowing they could help by praying for them. The ladies were also reminded of the number of unreached internationals right here in Gaithersburg, and the opportunity to reach out by extending kindness and hospitality to the unreached in this area.

“It was a beautiful environment that fostered fellowship and gave us a glimpse of another culture. Interacting with the ladies there was so uplifting and inspiring to me. The Lord deeply met me during the extended prayer time and I walked away with fresh conviction to pursue evangelism.” —Sarah

The atmosphere helped the ladies to lift their eyes and see the fields that are ripe for harvest in the community around us. Not everyone can or will go to these fields like the missionaries who spoke, but we can all take part in reaching the unreached. We can pray for those who are far off and about how we can reach the multitudes that God has brought to our front door!

“I left both refreshed by a sense of rich community at CLC, and excited to see how God can use that community to extend the good news of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him.” —Rebecca

The time ended with another talk by a missionary with Global Gates, an organization working to bring the gospel to internationals in our own country. She shared about the amazing opportunity we have to reach women from unreached people groups right here in our community and ended by giving us ideas on how we could be more aware of opportunities around us. 

We are so grateful for how the Lord worked through the teahouse! He lit new fires of faith and boldness to reach out and pray for the lost around us, so that all “may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing [all] may have life in his name.” —John 20:31

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Kings of the Griddle

February 18 2015 at 6:35 am 0 Comments

Joe Moorman led the team of men that cooked nine gallons of pancake batter, 60 pounds of bacon, and 560 eggs for the men’s gathering on Saturday, February 7. Joe sent us this report honoring their work, and we wanted you to join us in thanking these servants.

If you’re interested in joining these men and serving at events like the Men’s Gathering, consider joining the Events Team.

I’m very grateful for each of these men, for their level of commitment to the event and how hard they worked, particularly when it looked like we were going to run out of pancakes.

It is a real sacrifice for them to give up most of their Saturday (and some of their Friday night) to serve, and to walk away completely exhausted, with pain in their back and feet. Many of these guys come back again, and again to serve at these big events. It is all of God’s abundant grace that he would place on their hearts a desire to spend their lives and strength so generously in this way, when they could be with their families or just resting after a long work week.

“I would encourage anyone who feels like they are lonely, isolated or discouraged to actively and prayerfully seek a place where they can serve in this church. The ceaseless outpouring of grace that you experience in the midst of serving far exceeds the cost of your time, talents and efforts.”
—Joe Moorman

I can tell you with certainty, that serving in this church is singular privilege, and is good for your soul. You experience the grace of deep fellowship, camaraderie and love for the people you serve with, as well as the people you serve. Here are some of the ways these men served sacrificially:

Andy McPhillips - Andy served on Saturday morning and helped in various ways with the bacon prep, the display setup, water and orange juice,  and he tirelessly washed dishes during the morning and for more than 2 hours after the event. Because of the bacon there were over 20 greasy bakers sheets that needed to be scraped of fat and hand washed. So, Andy’s contributions were invaluable.

John McSweeney - John served on Friday night, helping to prepare multiple buckets of pancake batter and scrambled eggs mix. He also came on Saturday morning and helped to prepare 2 more buckets of pancake batter when it was evident we were short on batter, and he stayed to the end to help with cleanup.

Jim Jones - Like John, Jim also served on Friday night, helping to prepare multiple buckets of pancake batter and scrambled eggs mix. He also came on Saturday morning and managed the preparation of the bacon (a greasy job!) from start (around 6 a.m.) to finish (around 9 a.m.) and stayed an hour after the event to help clean. Jim is the kind of guy that you can count on again and again to show up and joyfully serve.

Bob Sardelli and Brad Baxter - Bob and Brad came in on Saturday and managed the pancake preparation from the time that they came in (at 6 a.m.) all the way through the end of the batter (around 9:15 a.m.). Both men stayed late to help clean up.

Lou Stavely was very helpful in setting up the display tables, fruit baskets, coffee sugar and creamer,  and getting the coffee started on time and fully deployed.  He also worked with Jim breaking open boxes of bacon, putting the bacon on parchment and bakers sheets for Jim (another really greasy job). 

I would encourage anyone who feels like they are lonely, isolated or discouraged to actively and prayerfully seek a place where they can serve in this church. The ceaseless outpouring of grace that you experience in the midst of serving far exceeds the cost of your time, talents and efforts.

If you’re interested in joining these men and serving at events like the Men’s Gathering, consider joining the Events Team.

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God At Work | Sports Camp Has Global Reach

July 14 2014 at 3:06 pm 0 Comments

“The simple generosity of Covenant Life opening their building has left a huge ripple effect for the ministry, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and people coming to know Christ around the globe,” said Maryland State Director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Mark Stephens, after another successful FCA sports camp at Covenant Life this past June.

If you happened to be at the church during the week, you would have seen hustling lacrosse sticks and whizzing footballs in the fields, soaring volleyballs and squeaking basketball shoes in the gyms, and teetering cartwheels and running flips in the lobby. At this “All In” Power Camp, about 200 eight to thirteen year-olds, 50 high school small group “huddle” leaders, and 50 adults participated.

Four people from Laos, Singapore, and Korea also came to observe, learn, and be trained to lead these camps in their own countries.

“These guys are pumped up. They are really going to go back and do something. There’s gonna be an incredible ripple effect from this camp,” Stephens shared. “This FCA camp at Covenant Life Church is a model for the world.”

A Vietnamese sports ministry leader came out to shadow Stephens a couple years ago and went on to lead two FCA camps in Taiwan and two in Vietnam. Since then, others have come for training: Reon from Singapore, Philip from Malaysia, and Suttisak from Thailand.

“Vietnamese kids left by the wayside that no one was going to interact with, kids who get one bowl of rice a day and have only the t-shirt on their back, were shown the love of Christ through sports,” Stephens shared.

“I was a pastor for 15 years,” Stephens said. “Sometimes as a church you think, ‘Oh, we’ll be nice and loan someone our building and not charge rent. We’ll do a good deed.’ This church has no idea the positive impact that it has made on this community and worldwide by their generosity of opening their doors. “

He shared that the hundreds of people who have come through Covenant Life’s doors for FCA camps have nothing but positive things to say about this church.

“Whether it’s the location, or the kindness, or how the staff works with us, it just keeps getting better… I’m forever grateful for the partnership that we have with Covenant Life and how they’ve supported us,” Stephens said. “I consider them friends, not just partners.”

“It’s been incredible to be here,” said camp director Hannah Cheung. “Churches don’t usually have three gyms and a couple fields. The facility has been perfect for the camp. It’s the smoothest camp I’ve done in six years.”

The Laos pastor explained that in Laos, where 98% of the seven million people are Buddhist, “the problem is getting the people to come to the church—they will not come.” He is a part of the 2%.

While there are camps all across America, he has never seen a camp in Laos. His kids never attended camps. They’re not a part of the culture. He said, “So, we are trying to find new ways to share the good news. To do a sports camp is one of best ways. When we ask people to come to play soccer, they come. That’s why I came here. To learn, see, and experience the camp and how they do it here.”

When he heard about FCA, he was excited. “You can share the good news to the non-believer and build the relationship between the kids and God through the sports camp, so it’s a very powerful way to do a camp to reach the people, to share Christ, and to build up the faith of a believer.”

“Please pray for us,” he said. “ We would love to have sports ministry in all 700 hundred churches to reach out to the young generation.”

In Korea, when it comes to sports, “We are a top down, Olympian level, high profile level,” explained Korean FCA director, Olympian Committee member, and Taekwondo master Hyung don Jung (Lion is his English name).

When he returns from observing this camp, Lion hopes to focus on high school level athletes. He has sensed discouragement in sports for young people who are not interested in high profile achievement. He wants to encourage them to come together and play.

“FCA is an important thing. They really love Christ,” Lion said. “Your church is doing great things. Nationality, race, everything is overcome for the sake of the kingdom. Everyone is for the same kingdom here.  It will be a great influence on the next generation.”

Stephens shared how after the first day, a mom and son were walking out when she asked how his day was, he said, “Mom, I love this camp.”

“That’s what we want,” Stephens said, tearing up. “We want kids to keep coming back. They’re gonna come back if they love it, and they’ll love it if they get loved.”

“All for the glory of God. That’s the important thing,” Lion said. “ ‘All In’ for the kingdom.”

Photo Credit - MOCO FCA

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