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Jason Raitz

Jesus Follower. Husband. Dad. Son. Brother. Pastor.

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Prayer

I think we made a mistake…

Ok, I know this is going to sound crazy, but…

I think we made a mistake.

 Let me back up. I have no idea how we could have done it. Shoot, I have no idea how we did what we did. But, I think we could have attempted it. 

I think with God’s help, it was something that we could have done. 

Actually, Tracie brought it up to me months ago and my  first thought was…’she’s crazy!’. But, I will tell you I prayed about it. I really did. But honestly, I have been a level of stressed out that I have never been in my life. I really needed to remember Jesus’ words…

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, ‘that is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life, whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear’

So, you maybe wondering what I’m talking about?

I think we made a mistake by not bringing home…

TWO CHILDREN FROM CHINA. 

Yes, I’m crazy! Tracie is crazy! Ican hear the chorus’s of ‘your crazy’ righ now. I can see all the eyebrows going up. I can see people waking away. 

Especially after re-reading my blog post from last night! Wow, we were tired yesterday! Kai gave us a run for our money. 

But, being here. Walking around his orphanage. Seeing the RIDICULOUS need. Having our hearts broken and then broken again. Meeting families who have adopted 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times. Seeing what God has already done in our hearts. 

Yeah, I think we made a mistake by not at least attempting it. 

Now, I have no idea how we could have afforded it. I have no idea how we could have managed it. I have no idea. 

I really have no idea. 

To be honest, I have no idea how we were able to do what we did. I have no idea how we’re going to afford 3 kids with PKU. I don’t know how we afford 2 kids with PKU. I actually had someone tell us we were financially irresponsible for adopting a child with PKU when our need is already great for the two we have with PKU. 

That broke my heart. 

We’re kind of figuring stuff out as we go. 

But, I was pushing Kai through the lobby at our hotel yesterday and I was watching a new dad push his new baby girl in her wheelchair. Yes, her wheelchair. Then I talked to another dad who has a new baby girl, she’s 8 and blind. And I talked to another family who is rushing to get their new son back to the US because they don’t know how long his heart will keep working before surgery. 

And, my heart broke again in ways that I never thought it would. 

JUST BROKE!

Actually SHATTERED!

And I realized I think we made a mistake. 

I know God is working in us. I Know God is working in Kai. I know God is working in the people following our story. 

I know we did what God called us to do, I just wonder if we were suppose to do more?

I wonder if in the future God will call us to do more. 

I know for sure it wasn’t a mistake adopting Kai! This boy has already captured our hearts. This boy is our son and we will love him forever. 

The Presence of God was overwhelming

Have you ever felt the presence of God? 

I did today. 

We were in a Chinese medical office and we were waiting for Kai to be seen. Before he can leave China, he has go through a check up and have a TB test. 

As we were sitting, family after family starting coming in. I couldn’t help myself, I love meeting new people, so I started learning everyone’s stories. 

That’s when it happened. 

The Presence of God was Incredibly Powerful! 

I realized that this is the kind of place that Jesus was talking about…

‘For where to or three gather together as my followers, I am there among there’ ~Matthew 18:20 (nlt)

I talked with family after family and hearing their story was one of the most moving and profound moment of life I’ve ever experienced. 

Families who were on their second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth adoptions. 

Are you kidding me?

Families who were adopting children with severe special needs. Families who had taken a giant step of faith. 

And, it hit me. I know Jesus is here. Why would He not be? I mean, this is a Gathering of people who care for the ‘least of these’. 

‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me’ ~Matthew 25:45 (nlt)

The Presence of God was Powerful and Overwhelming. 

At times I had to make sure I wiped tears quickly so everyone in the room wouldn’t find out that I’m just a mess! 

Here’s the beautiful thing though, you can serve the ‘least of these’ anywhere you are! It hit me, I’m in China, but there are so many opporunties and moments back home to care for and to love and to serve the ‘the least of these’. 

A Look into our Nanjing, China trip through my iPhone 

The CHURCH made Kai’s Adoption a Reality

How about that for a headline!?! 

That’s the reality though, without the local CHURCH, Kai’s adoption would not have happened. 

Tracie and I weren’t in a position to afford this adoption on our own. Maybe that should have stopped us from pursuing it. It has stopped many. A few people expressed that opinion to us. Well, not face to face but on Facebook and to others. But, as we prayed about it, we just felt God’s overwhelming push to move forward and to ask the CHURCH to help. So, we did. We did it on Facebook. We did it through emails. We did it on my blog. We did it Face to face. 

And…the CHURCH DID!!!! 

Here’s what I mean by that. Not one Church is responsible for Kai’s adoption or one person or one family, but MANY. 

We had 6 year olds give $5. We had teenagers give. We had families give $20. We had some who gave thousands. We had people give from Central Michigan, the Detroit Area, Grand Rapids and up north. From…PA, IND, VA, CA, CO, NV, TX, LA, NY, OH, IL, WI, WA, FL, TN, KY, DC and some I’m forgetting about. 

But, Kai’s adoption couldn’t have happened without every one of those gifts. 

And, how about this…

99% of the people that gave were followers of Jesus. 

You know why? Because generosity is close to the heart of God! I mean, HE Gave HIS Son for us! Jesus gave everything! The Acts 2 Church gave to support each other. We, as the Church, are called to give! I believe we’re called to give first to God through the Local Church and then to give as God leads us to give. 

I love what Todd Clark said about generosity…

‘Generosity will make you rich not poor’

I have found that to be 100% true in my life. Embarrassingly enough, I fought this for years. I didn’t give because I thought that because I made hardly anything working for the church and because I gave so much time to the Church, that that was the same as giving financially. I was wrong. Dead wrong. There is a very strong and compelling reason that Jesus said your treasure is where your heart is. He knew that we struggle like crazy to Trust Him and He wants our heart. If we can’t put our finances ahead of our heart, we won’t experience all He has for us. 

I can honestly say that is true. I have experienced that. When you make generosity so common in life, like breathing, and you do that over time, whether times are good or bad, one day…

You will wake up and experience a waterfall of the Holy Spirits presence in your life. I have. It’s amazing. 

THE CHURCH MADE KAI’S ADOPTION A REALITY! 

And, actual Churches made Kai’s adoption a reality. This just completely blows my mind! It’s still had to wrap my mind around!

3 Churches, who really don’t know my family or I all that well (I mean, I have a friendship with their Pastors) took offerings to help us! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?? So, we will always be in awe and so grateful to 242 Community Church in MI, New Bethel Church in IN and Canvas Church in VA. 

Then, Thrive Church in CA, who knows more of me and my Church because we’re in the same network of Churches, received an offering as well. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

Also, the night before we left, I asked some folks from my Church to gather and pray for us. And they did! And, they threw us a surprise shower to help with Kai’s clothes and toys and toddler stuff! 

THE CHURCH IS AWESOME!!!

The Church is responsible for this adoption. Of all the complaining and whining I read about the CHURCH, I’m sorry if I can’t join in! I love the LOCAL CHURCH! She is the bride of Christ. The local Church, when working right, is the Hope of the World. The Church preaches the Gospel. The Church gives people a home. The Church allows the generations to come together. The Church is a movement! The Church is the hands and feet of Jesus! The Church is the LIGHT to this dark world. 

That’s why it just shocks me that Christians have become so apatathic towards their Churches. But, that’s for another blog post. 

Here’s what I know…

A boy who didn’t have a family, now has one. A boy who didn’t have a Church home, now has one. A boy who wasn’t going recieve the level of medical care his PKU needed, will receive one. A boy who slep in a crip with 12 other kids, will now have 4 siblings. A boy on the other side of the world, one of the 17 million orphans in the world, now has a home. 

The Church did that! 

I love the Church. 

‘Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you’ ~ James 1:27

I can’t even process how ROUGH the month started but how AMAZING it finishing!

What a month! 

I’m telling you, this week started out ROUGH! I wonder how many people can relate? I actually wrote this BLOG POST talking about just being tired of pain! I know I’m not alone. I know people have rough weeks all the time, but this one, for whatever reason, just started out rough.

I take that back, the last 2-3 weeks have been on the rougher side. It kind of started on October 2nd. That was Thrive’s THREE anniversary and to be extremely honest, I had a very ROUGH morning that day.

Typically, our anniversary’s and big Sunday’s are my favorite, but something was going on inside my head and my heart and my soul. As soon as 8:30am hit, wave and wave of amazingly hard discouragement and disappointment just kept hitting me.

It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. 

Listen, I’ve been a Pastor long enough to know that its not an easy job. I get that. Satan is attacking, People attack, Life attacks and thats all before you wake up some days!

For whatever reason, October 2nd was really hard. Those lying voices in my head kept reminding me of all the people who have left Thrive, the people who have said negative stuff about me and the Church, all the initiatives we haven’t been able to do yet because of finances and then the 1 or 2 super colossally bad decisions I’ve made while being Thrive’s Pastor. Yes, I’ve made more. A LOT MORE. But, there are 1-2 that really stick out.

 

Here’s what happened though in my life:

God showed up big. People showed up big.

Here’s what I mean. God provided! He brought healing! He brought Peace! He brought love! He brought hope! The list below is just the short list of the amazing BLESSINGS God has brought my way. As you struggle with the rough moments, hold on, God has something for you! He has beauty that you can’t even imagine. He has healing that you can’t even imagine.

The Blessings that have found their way to our family…

ONE…A Found Hand Written Note in my Bible. It was left by an amazing Thriver and I have read her worlds over and over again! Such a blessing! 

TWO…Glasses for Bekah. A friend from TX messaged us last month and said she would love to bless Bekah with new glasses! Such a blessing! 

THREE…A Car. Yeah, no joke. A miracle. Both are cars are old and held together with duck tape. A dear friend gave us a car and said it was the best way they know possible for helping with our adoption. Just UNREAL! Such a blessing! 

FOUR…Gift for Pastor Appreciation. There is an amazing couple at Thrive who just bless so many people. Well, they gave me a gift for Pastor Appreciation month and with it, I was able to get some of the things my kids needed for school. Such a blessing! 

FIVE…Gift card for Shoes. A wonderful couple at church stopped me a few backs and gave me a gift card for a new pair of shoes. With 4 kids and two of them having PKU, shoes and clothes are on the low priority list for Tracie and I! Such a blessing! 

SIX…My parents. Yeah, I could fill blog post after blog post about all the amazing ways my parents help us all the time. They are just always there! Such a blessing! 

SEVEN…A mattress for Bekah. We’ve needed a mattress for 3-4 months for Bekah. There was unfortunate accident on her mattress with our cat. Last night, a dear friend texted Tracie out of the blue saying that she has a mattress for Bekah! Such a blessing! 

EIGHT…Approve, Certified and Sealed Dossier. This was HUGE. Many of our forms were set to expire this week before they were more than 6 months old for adoption process. Tracie, because of the amazing gift of a dear friend, was able to go to downtown Chicago and take the forms to the Chinese Consulate and get them sealed! Such a blessing! 

NINE…A trip to Chicago for Tracie. One of our best friends in the world, made it possible for her to take Tracie to Chicago to get our paperwork to the Consulates. It never would have happened without her help! Such a blessing! 

TEN…77 Puzzle Pieces for Kai.

This is the easiest and simplest fundraiser ever. We have two identical puzzles. They are pictures of Kai and our family. We’re asking that people sponsor a piece or two or three. Really, whatever amount they would like and that coincides with the puzzle piece. When someone sponsors a piece, we send it to them in the mail with a picture of the puzzle.

Then, we write their name on the other puzzle piece. When its completed, we will frame it and put it in Kai’s room for him to see all the people that helped bring him home!

We have been blown away and people are continuing to sponsor pieces.

Friends from all the country! Churches! Kids! Students! Its just been unreal!

Even though the month started rough. Even though this week started rough. God has provided. God has brought healing. God has reminded me of his love. God has showed up time and time again!

If you’re going through a rough time, hang in there! Stay close to Jesus! He will get you through.

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ ~Jesus

 

 

I turn 41 Today. 41 Things I hope to accomplish by the time I’m 50!

So, today is my birthday.

I am 41.

To be honest, last year’s birthday was pretty hard. Actually, it was awful! Not that I turned 40, but because this year has been a tough year.

Regardless, another year, another birthday and it has me thinking. I’ll be 50 in 9 years. I have 9 years to accomplish many of the things that have been on my bucket list. So, here goes. A little warning, some are crazy selfish!

41 Things I hope to Accomplish

  1. Take my dad and boys to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  2. Actually take Tracie somewhere for our anniversary. We’ll celebrate 20 years this May and we’ve never done a trip to celebrate.
  3. Take my mom and my family to Washington DC.
  4. Finally get healthy.
  5. Lose 100 pounds.
  6. Give up drinking pop.
  7. Memorize the book of James.
  8. Read 12-15 books a year.
  9. Write the book that’s been on my heart for 10 years called…’A Field, a Pedestal and a Shattered Heart’. It’s about how to get back up after you’ve been knocked down and your heart has been shattered.
  10. Take my family to Ecuador to meet our Compassion kids and bless them.
  11. Plant 5 Thrive locations around MI. Big Rapids, Midland, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Lansing.
  12. Help plant and invest in 3 more brand new church plants in the US.
  13. Raise $170,000 to plant 2 Churches in Ecuador with Compassion and Stadia.
  14. Take my dad and family on a Baseball Stadium tour.
  15. Start a youtube channel for people who want to become a better communicator.
  16. Sponsor 2 more Compassion Kids. We have 3 now, we want 5. One for each Raitz kid.
  17. Take Tracie to Hawaii.
  18. Spend a week in Dana Point, CA. My favorite spot on the planet.
  19. Build or Renovate a building for Thrive.
  20. Open up a full time homeless shelter in Central MI.
  21. Open up a ministry for people to get their cars fixed.
  22. Be a part of buying 10,000 pair of shoes for local elementary kids in Central MI.
  23. Write a series of ebooks for Church Planters.
  24. Remodel our house.
  25. Put in a  basketball court for our kids on our side lot.
  26. Finally own a hot tub.
  27. Fast one day a week.
  28. Take my family to Israel and see the Holy land.
  29. Preach at Newspring Church.
  30. Have a conversation with Andy Stanley.
  31. Sing with Darius Rucker.
  32. Buy my dad a brand new truck.
  33. Thrive Church families sponsor 1000 Compassion kids.
  34. Take dance lessons with Tracie.
  35. Write a book on 1 Corinthians 13 and call it something cool like…Choose Love…there’s no better way.
  36. Bring a Passion (Yes, with Crowder and the gang) event to Central Michigan University.
  37. Take each Raitz kid to wherever they want to go on the planet.
  38. Walk Bekah down the aisle.
  39. Start an online Bible College with Dr. Tom Rundel.
  40. Buy each Raitz kid their own computer.
  41. Help other families adopt kids.

 

 

Keep Calm its Sunday Morning! Wait, don’t keep calm! It’s SUNDAY!!!!

Hey Thrive Church!Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 6.16.28 AM
 
It’s Sunday morning! The absolute best part of the week! Why? Because we have the amazing privilege of being a part of something that Jesus gave His life for…

The local Church!

Plus, I couldn’t sleep last night and spend a great deal of time praying for you and I’m PUMPED!! Geeked! EXCITED! Ready to go!!
 
So, don’t miss your chance to
  • GATHER TOGETHER with your Church this morning!
  • Don’t miss your chance to WORSHIP YOUR GOD with your Church.
  • Don’t miss your chance to SERVE other people in your Church.
  • Don’t miss your chance to receive COMMUNION and celebrate and remember what Jesus did on the cross.
  • Don’t miss your chance to MEET new people and LOVE people!
 
It’s super easy to MISS, isn’t it? All Satan does is put excuses in our heads. So, don’t. Plus, I bet God has something HUGE for you this morning!!
 
…If you’re SERVING, please be at Volunteer Central by 8:30am.
…Come early and sit by someone new. Sit close!!
…Say hi to people. Shake hands or wave at folks.
…Worship LOUD. Raise your hands, Close your eyes. Pour out your heart to Jesus.
…Laugh and Learn during the message on how God is for the Worrier.
…GIVE. Yup, give financially. Give sacrificially. Give cheerfully.
 
> > 2 Reasons to be at Thrive > >
 
ONE…It’s the last week of ‘No Perfect People Allowed’. The conclusion is going to be awesome. God is for the Worrier.
 
TWO…We’ll continue the celebration from last week by watching the Baptism and BBQ highlight video!! One of Thrive’s best days ever!!
 
Alright, we’ll see you soon! I’m praying for you! Can’t wait to see you!
 
Jason
 
PS…Don’t forget about next Sunday. It’s called ‘You Asked for It’ Sunday. Dr. Tom and I are going to answer your questions on God, Life, Theology and Faith. Just email them to youaskedforit@thrivechurchmi.cc or text them to 989 572 0439.

Monday Morning Thoughts about Life, Family and Ministry @Thrive

Yesterday was a great day! broken

It was my first Sunday teaching at Thrive since July 3rd and I loved every second of it. I only missed a Sunday and a half in July, but it was great to be back teaching.

I took a bit of a break in July. I took off 2 weeks to speak at camps and churches and then I was able to take off a few days for a vacation.

I planned it out months ago and my hope is that each July I’ll take a break like this.

It’s funny, a few years ago you couldn’t have convinced me that I would need a break. Well, wow, I needed the break. I understand now that every Pastor needs to take REST and Sabbath very seriously!

I’m learning an absolute ton about the role of a pastor. I’ve served churches for 20 years, but the pressure on the lead pastor is so much different than anything I’ve experienced in all those years of serving and working for Churches.

Thoughts on Life

It’s amazing how fast life flies by! And then, there are moments that seem to move at a snail’s pace. Like our adoption. Things are progressing, but its a slow go. Our home study was approved, but we’re just waiting for the official signed copy. At that point, we can start applying for grants.

Which will help, because our next round of payments are due and we’ll need to come up with another $3000. But, I know in the end, it will all be worth it! I just can’t wait to have Kai home with us!

Thoughts on Family

At the moment, our 14 year old is in Africa, our 16 year old is in South Carolina and our 8 year old stayed the night at a friends house. That left just Zach home with us! Wow, one kid is a breathe!

But, I miss Bobby and I can’t wait for him to be home! But, I LOVE that he has this amazing opportunity to experience another country!

And, I LOVE that Bekah has an amazing opportunity to travel to South Carolina with two amazing young leaders of Thrive Church and together they are getting a behind the scenes look at one of our favorite Churches…Newspring Church!

Thoughts on Minstry @ Thrive

Yesterday was a spectacular day for our Church! And, in just under 2 weeks, we will baptize between 25-30 people! Wow! Wow! Wow! IMG_4491

Tracie and I went down to the park where our outdoor worship experience is and prayed for that day and the people getting baptized! I can’t wait!

Thrive turns 3 on October 2 and I can’t even believe it! In three short years, I believe, we have made an incredible impact for the Kingdom.

I love my Church and I know the best is yet to come!

 

 

We’re praying for 25 people to Help us Bring home Kai. Would you pray with us?

If you haven’t heard yet, the Raitz family is adopting a little boy from China named Kai. You can read more about it here. 邹宏凯+(1)

We’re beyond EXCITED and HUMBLED! We pray everyday for the moment we’ll be able to bring him home!

That’s why we’re praying for 25 people to each give $100 towards Kai’s adoption fund!

To date, we’ve been able to raise about $17,000 towards his adoption!! Its just been unreal and we’re so humbled and honored God would move in peoples lives to help us bring Kai home!

But, we have about $13,000 to go! And, in the next 25 days…

We have to raise $2500.

Here’s why. What’s been raised so far has been applied to our Home Study process, adoption fees and the numerous extra things that have to be done for the adoption process.

We have to raise $2500 immediately for our next payment to the adoption agency that oversees Kai. That will help us make sure that Kai stays with the Raitz family.

If you can’t help financially, we would so appreciate your prayers!!

We’re getting closer and closer!! We’re waiting on our home study report and then we will submit our final paperwork to the US and China. Then we will also apply for a few adoption grants. And then we will wait for the final approvals and then wait for our travel window from China.

Then, we will fly to China, spend 14 days there and then…

BRING HOME KAI!!!!

We pray about the day we get to hold home everyday! We pray about the day we get to walk around the streets of China with him everyday! We pray about the moment we will load up on the plane ride home everyday. We pray about the moment we will land in Detroit and then head home and introduce him to our friends and family!

I pray everyday for the day we will get to bring him to our Church! I pray everyday for the family walks we will take! I pray everyday for the times I’ll play catch with him and watch him playing with his siblings.

We can’t wait! Thanks for being a a part of our journey!

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