The Raitz Family Needs Your Help to Adopt and Bring home Winona Mae!!

The Raitz Family has some some HUGE news! IMG_3316

We’re trying…praying…hoping… believing that we are going to Adopt Winona Mae from China! That’s our name for her. It’s after Tracie’s two grandmothers. She actually wanted to name both girls that, but Bekah and Madison won out then. Now it’s time for Winona Mae. Her name as of right now is An Fu Le and she is a beautiful 17 month old baby with PKU from China! She’s very tiny for her age.

The Story 

Ok, let me back up! We have four kids. Our life is pretty full. We planted and now lead a growing and exciting church. Our kids are in sports. Have homework and activities. Both Tracie and I work many hours every week for our Church. In the midst of all of that, we believe that God has called us to adopt a child with PKU.

The Calling

God put a calling on my heart almost ten years ago! I was flying home from a mission trip to Mexico. It was a year after Zach was born and his PKU still rocked me to my core. Actually, I could hardly deal with it. I was journaling and I was thinking about the children I saw on that mission trip and the thought that kept sticking with me was…what if Zach was born there? He just wouldn’t make it. That night, God put the call to adopt on my heart. Tracie has always wanted too add to our family and together through a ton of prayer, we have decided to take this step.IMG_3305

It’s taken ten years, but we have found a baby girl in China with PKU and we have been pre-approved by China to pursue her adoption. She’s been on a PKU diet but she is behind a bit developmentally. She is in an orphanage with 800 other children and just doesn’t get a lot of stimulation or individual attention. That’s why we need your help to bring her home!

There is a lot to be done before we can bring Winona Mae home! Paperwork, interviews and and honestly, the biggest part is raising $30,000. And then, we no longer have anything for babies! No cribs, strollers, toys, pack n plays, clothes, etc.

Yes, $30,000!

I know, I know, I know. That’s a lot of money! But, there are a ton of fees. There is airfare. Tracie and I will need to spend 2 weeks in China. There is paperwork costs. There are more fees. There is her paperwork fees. And so much more.

But, it will be worth it! We will add to our family, which the Raitz kids are totally EXCITED about it! And, we will give a loving home with a  great family to a child who desperately needs it. Plus, we already have two kids with PKU! So, she will have a ton of support with her own PKU!

And the cool part so far is… everyone we’ve told so far is totally excited! Our parents, our siblings, our kids, our friends, and circle! We’ve even had people already tell us they will help us raise the money! We’ve had friends who said they will contribute. We’ve had friends ready to help get her room ready! It’s pretty exciting!

We’ve already decided that we are going to try to sell everything we possibly can to help raise as much money as we can. We’re going to be hosting some fundraising events and we will even have a T-Shirt that people can buy.

So, will you consider helping us Bring Winona Mae home? 

Any amount and gift is a HUGE BLESSING!

Here’s what you can to do help us bring Winona Mae home:

  1. You can head HERE to give. This is a Go Fund Me account and will help keep our donations organized!
  2. Share this blog post on your Facebook page.
  3. Share our Go fund Me page on your Facebook page.
  4. Pray. Yes, that should have been number one, but please pray. Pray for the smoothness. Pray for favor with the Chinese government. Pray for God’s favor on raising these funds. Pray for our family.

Ok, I can’t thank you in advance! Thank you for praying! Thank you for giving! Thank you for sharing our Go Fund Me page on your own social media pages!

Let’s bring Winona Mae home!!!!!

Excited to Encourage 2nd Graders to Choose Kindness over Bullying today at Beal City School

It’s been awhile, about a year and a half, but today I’m encouraging 2nd graders to

Choose Kindness over Bullying.

Let me back up. Before I planted Thrive Church, I started a non profit called Live Now Leadership and I spoke in schools to encourage students to Choose Kindness over Bullying. But, with the rapid growth of the church, I just haven’t been able to head out and speak in schools. I’ve missed it.

So, we were at Madie’s parent teacher conference and as we were taking with her teacher it came up that I use to speak to students. She jumped on it quickly and asked if I would speak to all the 2nd graders at Madie’s school.

Helping kids, students and adults treat each other with kindness and respect is actually a HUGE passion of area of mine! My heart breaks when people mis-treat each other.

Just imagine if Parents would be passionate about teaching their kids to treat each other with unprecendeted amounts of kindness and respect. Imagine if parents treated their families and their peers with that kind of kindness. Imagine if 2nd graders understood the importance and began to treat others with kindness…the world would change!

This wasn’t a tough decision at all.

So, this morning I’m headed into Madie’s school and I get to help out. I can’t wait!

And bonus, my kids have heard me speak on this so many times that they’ve been helping get my talk together this morning! I love that!

Thanks for praying for me around 8ish this morning!

Parents…Here’s One way to get your kids more interested in Church

Calling all Moms and Dads. Calling all Step Moms and Dads. Calling all Grandparents. Calling all Aunts and Uncles. Calling all Mentors.

Let me cut right to the point of this post…

I’m often asked how parents can get their kids more interested in church.

So, here’s One extremely simple way to get your kids more interested in Church.

You (as the adult) find a church you’re interested in and then

really be a part!

Simple, right? I have seen this work time and time again. But, here’s the secret, you have to be A PART! Not nominally, not sort of, not kind of, not sometime, not barely, not in a kind of sorta way, not when it fits in your schedule…but really be a part!

And, the best way for this to work is if you do this from the time your kids are born all the way up. Yup, you as the parent just model believing that because of Jesus, the Local Church is the Hope of the World. And because of that, its worth believing in, giving your time and finances and being a raving fan of THE CHURCH and your church.

Here are 10 Ways our Family is Really A Part of our Church…

1. We serve together as a family. Yes, I’m the Pastor and part of my job is to be there on Sunday’s. But, we all head to Church together on Sunday’s. And, our kids each have a serving role.

2. We talk about tithing and giving with our kids. From early on, we’ve talked about it with our kids. Demonstrated it and helped them when they earn.

3. We don’t junk about people in our church. If you want your kids to not like church, then talk about how horrible the people are. Just choose not too.

4. We dream together. We talk all the time how we can make our church better. What we can do to help others.

5. We are all a part of our small group. The Raitz kids look forward to Sunday night and we all refer to it as our small group. Now, the adults stay upstairs and the kids head downstairs. But, it’s our group and we make it a priority to keep Sunday evenings free and clear.

6. We are a part of one church. I know a few families who just visit a couple of churches. I don’t get it. Find a church and plug in.

7. We make sure our kids are a part of the kids and student ministry. Now, I was a youth pastor for 15 years, so student ministry is still very important to me. But, at every phase of kids and student ministry, they have been very important to our family.

Sometimes school stuff (sports, grades, band, etc) comes first in some families. That’s just not the way we do it. Yes, school stuff is very important. But, if the local church is hope of the world, why would I not do everything I can to get my kids as plugged in as possible?

8. We make sure our kids are on every retreat and summer camp. I can’t even begin to describe how important this is to our family! My life was drastically changed when God spoke to me on my 8th grade retreat and I’ve lead and spoke at a few hundred retreats over the last 20 years. So, I know first hand how important they are!

9. We pray for our Church. The staff, the leaders, the people and our outreach.

10. We ask for their opinion. As we drive, as we eat, as we walk, as we talk…we’re always asking our kids for their opinion about our church. What they like, don’t like.

Last week I asked my kids what they love about their church and here’s what they said:

Zach…It’s Simple, Fun and Real. I love the music. IMG_2972

Bobby…My friends are there. There’s not many like ours.

Bekah…We’ve been a part of its growth and that’s fun to see. It’s an energetic environment. I get to lead.

Made…We get to have PJ day. We love the people there. I get to help set up.

Ok, we’re not the perfect family. BY FAR! There are Sunday’s that its an all our brawl to get everyone out the door. But, for the most part, we really do love our church…together.

Now, just a little add on. This has been our pattern since our kids were infants. If you’re new to Church, your journey may be a bit different. I would still encourage you to start with this list. Model it for your kids. Ask them to be a part. And just keep asking them to be a part with you.

A conversation with my 15 year old that had me tearing up

I love having a 15 year old daughter! I still think it’s crazy that I’m old enough to have a 15 year old, but I love it!

I’ve been praying since before she was born that God would use her to reach thousands and thousands of people for His Kingdom!

Now that she’s 15, it’s so amazingly fun to see her start to use her gifts to lead at Thrive Church! I believe she has the gift of leadership and others have told me that.

So, we’re driving after school this week and she says…’Dad, I had a wild dream last night’. I said, ‘tell me all about it’. She begins to describe this dream of how she was teaching at Camp Timber Lee (a camp I’ve taught at for 10 years and she’s heard me give hundreds of messages there).  She talked about the illustration she used and what she taught about it. She lit up when she was talking about it.

I was wrecked! I teared up and tried to hide it from her! I’ve been praying and dreaming for 15 years that God would give her dreams and visions of how she can be used for His Kingdom!

I can’t wait to see how God uses her!

Help Send Bekah to Ecuador!!

Would you help Bekah Raitz raise $1000 for her to go to Ecuador? Any size gift will be a huge blessing and every gift matters.

Ok, let me back up.IMG_6807

I have the privilege of taking my oldest daughter, Bekah,  with me to Ecuador, November 17-21. We are going to check out Stadia and Compassion’s church planting and child sponsorship efforts! I can’t wait! I was suppose to go on a trip in August 2013, but had to cancel because of my back problems.

But, here we are a few years later and now I get to take my 15 year old! I really believe it will be life changing for both of us!

We will get to meet our families Compassion sponsored child and we couldn’t be more excited! We will also get to see first hand the efforts that are being done to release children from poverty.  We will also get to meet the leaders and people who are establishing new churches and literally bringing waves of life change to communities and neighborhoods!

This is all important because at Thrive Church, we are praying about being able to plant a Church in Ecuador sometime in the next couple of years. And, we have a Compassion Sunday in early November and we are praying for 50 children to be sponsored!

If you want to read more about these incredible endeavors and partnerships, please check out this link. 

Bekah needs to raise $1000 by November 1st to be able to go on this life changing trip. 

So, would you help her?

Would you partner with her and donate funds for her to be able to go? I can’t thank you enough in advance!

If you want to give online, head here.  Just select Ecuador Missions Trip and you can make your online gift there. All gifts are tax deductible.

If you would like to send a check. Just make it out to Thrive Church and put Bekah Raitz in the memo line. Send it to…Thrive Church, PO Box 1408, Mt Pleasant, MI 48804.

Thank you so much for making this life changing trip possible. 

Lastly, check out this video to find out more about Stadia’s efforts with Global Church Planting!




Thrive Church Loves Schools!! We had the honor of serving a few tonight for Back to School Night!

Tonight was pretty awesome! Thrive was given the privilege to serve some local schools and it was an honor!

Let me back up. Even before we started Thrive Church, we decided that we were going to do everything we possibly could to serve schools. Why? Because…

Kids Matter! Teachers Matter! Parents Matter! 

So, this year we’ve taken huge strides to serve schools.

  • We did a shoe project back in March where we gave out 425 pairs of adidas tennis shoes.
  • A few Sundays ago we took the Sunday off and served 5 schools, it was awesome!
  • Tonight, we offered inflatables and free food to a few elementary schools for their back to school night and they accepted!

So, we served. It was awesome.

Sarah, my assistant, got this text from a Principle tonight…

‘Thank you so much for all you did to make our open house great!! You guys rock!

Just an honor to serve! Can’t wait till the next time!