On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 was launched with the intention of landing on the moon. But the mission was aborted when an oxygen tank in the command module failed. Could you imagine the feelings of fear and dread among the astronauts? The three of them were all alone, thousands of miles away from home, wondering if they would ever get home.
But they weren’t alone. Thousands of miles away, engineers and technicians worked around the clock, working to improvise in order to bring the astronauts safely back to earth. On April 17, that mission was completed as the command module splashed down safely in the Indian Ocean. Even though the astronauts were far away, they weren’t alone.
This Christmas, we too celebrate the fact that we are not alone. Where this illustration breaks down is that God is not far away. Jesus came to us. One of His names is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” If those astronauts took hope and confidence from the people at work in Mission Control, how much more should we take hope and confidence in Emmanuel, God with us?
It’s easy to overlook the experience and servitude that the members of North Pointe bring through the doors every Sunday morning—especially when they are as humble and quiet as Lois Sandiford.
Lois grew up in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada with three siblings. She was blessed with parents who loved the Lord and helped their children know Jesus. Lois accepted Christ as a child and continues to give thanks to her parents and church family that kept teaching and guiding her in her growth in Christ. Lois met her husband, Rex, in Kansas City at an orientation required before going onto the mission field. Little did they know that encounter would lead to their marriage and ten years of mission work overseas with Muslims.
While serving on the mission field in Morocco, the Moroccan government expelled all missionaries from the country. But the Sandifords continued their work by renting three houses away from the government watch. The first house served as a school, the second served as housing for teachers, and the third as a dorm for students. They had four children, three of them born overseas—one in Switzerland and two in Morocco. The fourth child was born in Kansas City where Rex and Lois continued missions work in an administrative and teaching level for thirty years. After a short time in Indiana, they decided to come to Lincoln where they had family and the lifestyle was more conducive to their needs.
Using Her Gifts to Encourage Others
Lois and Rex moved to Lincoln six years ago and began coming to North Pointe with their children who were already attending North Pointe. They liked it and stayed. What a blessing for North Pointe! One of Lois’s passions has been in women’s ministry. She serves as a table leader encouraging women in their walk with Christ, which allows her to continue using the gifts He has given her in this area. She also visits friends in care facilities in order to be a faithful witness to them.
Lois has been a volunteer for the Yezidi English classes and today she still visits with one of the students on a regular schedule to help her with English. She attends Friday morning prayer group and enjoys the adult Bible study on Sunday morning. Lois believes, “Prayer is so essential in accomplishing what God has given us to do, and I love being a part of that.”
Lois is now retired and likes to play puzzle games, knit, and talk with friends. She enjoys Daniel’s worship leadership, how Pastor Andy preaches the Word in truth, and the opportunities for prayer groups at North Pointe. She also loves the women’s Bible study and is so thankful for Marge’s leadership.
When asked what the Lord was teaching her these days, Lois shared, “I think just to be more and more intentional about loving Him with all my heart, listening very carefully to His prompting, and obeying quickly. When my love for Christ is what it should be, then my obedience isn’t such a struggle.” Lois will tell you that she has retired from leadership positions but those who have met her know that her servitude for Christ has quietly made her a leader.
Our journey to Spain started at 4 a.m. with a long day of travel. We flew from Lincoln to Minneapolis to JFK to Madrid, landing around 8 a.m. Spain time. We were greeted by Hudson and Matt from International Media Ministries (IMM) to chauffeur us to the IMM studio. I’m sure nine exhausted Nebraskans were quite a sight!
Our first task upon our arrival was a tour of the studio, located in a residential area of Los Hueros near Madrid. From the outside it’s a typical Spanish home, with balconies all around and beautifully tiled floors. The inside has been completely redesigned with editing rooms, offices, storage, and apartments. We had to take a break in the middle of the tour for coffee because we were so tired. Apparently, the best way to combat jet lag is to push through the whole day and go to bed somewhat around normal bedtime.
The IMM team and Hudson kept us busy the first day with a trip to Alcala de Henares nearby to tour the plaza. We saw the birthplace of the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote Don Quixote, and the ancient buildings there, including an old university and church. For lunch, we ate a traditional Spanish cuisine called tortilla, made from potatoes, onion, and eggs. It’s nothing like the traditional Mexican tortilla we know in the States, but a savory, creamy, pie-shaped dish. We tried other tapas there as well, including fried mushrooms, cheese made from a mixture of sheep and cow milk, and fried pork belly. Que delicioso! The rest of the day we spent at the studio playing games or exploring the little town of Los Hueros.
The next day, we attended a Spanish church. Hearing familiar worship songs in Spanish and the Spaniards praising God in prayer was an unforgettable experience. The rest of our Sunday was spent at the studio, helping prepare for the week of shooting and eating more wonderful food prepared by our hosts. Having the weekend to rest and adjust to Spain made us much more effective for the rest of the trip.
Filming The Heritage Project
Monday was filming week, day 1. Nearly all the crew members met at the studio in mid-morning to pray over the week and load up the vans. Benidorm is about a four-hour drive south of Los Hueros, and the van ride was a great time to connect with each other and reflect on the trip so far. The landscape along the way was gorgeous—mountainous with many olive farms and small towns. Our destination was Terra Mitica in Benidorm, an amusement park along the southern coast of Spain, known for its accurate structures depicting various ancient eras, including Rome, Egypt, and Greece. Upon arrival, we helped the crew unload the equipment and supplies and organize it for shooting the next day.
The next two days were full of action, with each team member slotted in various departments. Some were presented with the task of getting actors ready, many of whom did not speak much English, with costumes (Kris and April) and makeup (me). Some helped set up the filming locations with props (Keith) or assisting with audio (Jo). Others served everyone by keeping our bellies full with food and our hearts warm with their kind words and thoughtful presence (Mandy and Deb). Still others drifted behind the scenes to capture cast and crew in action in a different set of cameras (Jared and Brian). The days were long in order to make the best use of the time we had in the park.
One of the thoughts that came up frequently in our debriefings each night was the fact that each member seemed to be well-suited for their roles. Before our trip, we were kind of a hodge-podge group of North Pointers who didn’t know each other all that well but were excited for the things God had for us here. We come from so many different backgrounds and are spread across all stages of life, and yet God chose to unite us in this mission of sharing the Gospel in such a unique and widespread way.
On Thursday, the last day of shooting, we wrapped up, packed up all the equipment, and celebrated by going to a new restaurant in Benidorm. Amidst the tapas we shared, I saw God working. He gave April and I the opportunity to speak with the actors who were on set that day. We tried to communicate in the limited Spanish we knew, and they tried to communicate in the limited English they knew. Thankfully, Sean from IMM was able to be our translator for much of it. As we were getting ready to head back to the hotel for our team debrief, Kris and Brian invited them to come along, to experience our Bible study.
It was surreal, watching Hudson, Jared, Brian, and others on our team share the Gospel with the five Spaniards. The actors asked questions and we did our best to explain Jesus to them. I couldn’t believe God has entrusted us with such an important conversation. And I knew none of it would have happened if God hadn’t already been working in their hearts through other people in their lives, especially the crew of IMM.
A Time for Peaceful Reflection
The next day we were all exhausted, both emotionally and physically. Our North Pointe team woke up early and walked down to the beach to see the Mediterranean Sea before we left. God gave us a precious moment to praise, reflect, and enjoy Him in a stunning piece of His creation right when we needed it.
We spent the rest of Friday traveling back to the IMM studio, helping unload the equipment there, meeting Hudson’s family—encouraging, laughing, sharing stories—and attending the wrap party dinner. On Saturday, we explored the nearby city of Toledo with the Shires and our guide from IMM, Sean. We visited the oldest blacksmith shop still in operation and gawked at the vast delicate architecture of the venerable cathedral. We wandered through the winding, bricked streets and into tiny shops along the way.
Through the entire trip, God proved that He has a purpose for each of us. His purposes aren’t general, thrown together carelessly as though He forgot until the last minute. He whittles, crafts, and thoughtfully designs the specific purposes He has for each of us. He wraps them in His grace and goodness and presents them to us, like a proud father giving his child a treasured gift, eager to see the joy it brings. Certainly this trip and the purposes He had for us there were a treasured gift, and it’s with joy that I will reflect on and cherish it for years to come.
Bonjour! It’s Hudson here, writing to you on behalf of the Shires family in France. You know, it's the hope of every missionary that he’s communicating well with his sending church. It’s also the missionary’s hope that the sending church understands their impact on his life, not just on his ministry.
Kristina and I remember sitting at North Star High School in 2006, listening to a lanky, energetic Michigan fan preaching the Gospel. We were in a low spot as a family that year and had hard times over the next few years, but North Pointe was a gift from God, designed to see us through. You've accompanied us in many ways over the years. We fondly remember attending our life group, then helping to lead our life group, and then I was upfront playing guitar with the worship team. I still remember someone catching me out for playing the solo from Green Day’s “When I Come Around” in the middle of a praise song.
As time went on, the sermons and prayers and time that you invested in us helped us get to a place where we could recognize God’s call to missions, despite the challenges of marriage and raising children. We responded to God’s call in 2009, and no one was more surprised than us. But the North Pointe family believed in God, believed in us, and supported us all the way.
But in our hearts, we’ve wanted more. We’ve wanted you to come and see what your financial support, your prayer support, your investment has meant for us. We began praying in 2014 for God to open the door to bring you into the field with us in a new way. But the time wasn’t right until last year, when you sent Jared on a three-week extravaganza in France, Tunisia, and Egypt with me. I saw the light bulb turn on! All of the theory was now real people, real opportunities, real stories of God’s work! And as we talked during the long, hot miles on the road, we dreamed about what it could look like to bring North Pointe back in an even bigger way.
Well, here’s how it looked to us: North Pointe opened a door for Jared to bring eight wonderful, humble, funny, and Spirit-filled volunteers to Spain to help do something that they’ve never done for people that they’ve never met in a language that they don’t speak.No big deal, right? These people are too humble to toot their own horn, so let me simply say it: You sent us a team of Timothys—Christians mature and wanting simply to serve in whatever capacity they could. I think that they all either shared the Gospel directly (and many times), or they were fervently praying and supporting those who were. They rubbed fake vomit on plague costumes, ran cameras, led prayer every night, shared their life stories, and loved our family in a way that was so encouraging after a really challenging year back on the field.
So, whatever the process is that North Pointe is doing to move you all from attenders to connectors to growers to engagers, we want you to be encouraged. It’s working. I think that God wants more of you coming to help us long-term workers out. I think God wants someone sitting there this Sunday to become a long-term worker. I know that our family is looking forward to the next time that you come and stay in our small corner of the kingdom. You’re welcome at any time … and thanks for sharing some of the family with us for ten days in Spain.
With all of our love in Christ,
Hudson, Kristina, Kadyn, Kali, Karik, Korbyn, Hero, Halwyn, Holden, and Haisley
Toddlers/Preschool: During the Christmas season this month, preschoolers will celebrate the beautiful gift of Jesus. They’ll learn to say again and again, “God gave us Jesus,” so that they’ll grow to trust that God loves them with a love so great that He gave them His one and only Son, Jesus, to be their friend forever.
K–5th Grade: This month, our K–5th graders will be learning how God is the source of our joy. They’ll discover that while our circumstances might not always make us feel happy, we can have joy knowing that God is in control. Through Jesus, God made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. Knowing Jesus can give us joy no matter what’s happening around us.
The Kids Ministry Christmas Program will be on Sunday, December 15, between our two services, from 10–10:30 a.m. If you would like your child to be in the program, please have them to their Sunday school classroom by 9:40 a.m.
Student Ministry Update
What We’re Teaching
Unwrapped: A Two-Week Series on Christmas
When you think of Christmas, you probably think about an event, one that’s (hopefully) filled with gifts, food, family, and fun. But what happens when that event isn’t as joyful or peaceful as we wish it were? And is the “event” even what Christmas is about anyway?
In this two-week series, students will discover what this season is truly about—getting ready to receive God’s gift of Jesus and sharing that gift with others!
December 18: Incredi-Bowling Christmas Party at North Pointe from 6–8:30 p.m.
December 25 & January 1: No Youth Group
Attention: ThePeru applicationis live! Have your student take a moment and sign up if they are interested in our High School Summer Missions Trip. Sign uphere. (Troubles submitting the form? Contact Cody at email@example.com.)
Coming Up in December
12/15—Children’s Ministry Christmas Program, 10–10:30 a.m.
12/19—Mom2Mom, 9:15–11:15 a.m.
12/24—Candlelight Christmas Eve Services, 3 & 5 p.m.
12/24 through 1/5—The church office will be closed for the holidays. If you need assistance, please email or call. Regular office hours will resume on January 6th.