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Meet the New Guy

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Our newest pastor, Jacob Prahlow, will deliver his first message at Rooftop this Sunday. He's a swell guy with lots of talent and gifts. The Elder Team hired him because we needed help serving the growing number of people at Rooftop. They also wanted to begin planning for the future.

Jacob will do many things, but will primarily oversee our Connections ministry (allowing Pastor Jeremy Zilkie to focus on other responsibilities).  Jacob will also spend the next several years developing a vision and plan to start another church in the St. Louis region.

We hope you will take time soon to meet and talk with Jacob and his wife, Hayley. Until then, here's 20 questions we asked Jacob so you can get to know him better:

Where were you born?
High Point, North Carolina

Where did you graduate high school?
Galien, Michigan

Where does your immediate family live now?
Parents and two siblings live in Lawton, Michigan; one brother and sister-in-law in Tallahassee, Florida; one brother and sister-in-law in Redding, California 

What was your favorite childhood Christmas present and why?
One year I got a Kenner electronic Millennium Falcon toy that was the best. Had some great memories playing Star Wars with my siblings using that.

What Saturday morning cartoon did you always watch?
Maybe not on Saturday mornings, but The Magic School Bus was a favorite.

What was your favorite subject in school?
History. Always enjoyed learning about the past. 

Where did you get your undergrad degree and why?
Valparaiso University (Indiana). They had a great theology department, my extended family lived in Valpo, and (quite honestly) the scholarship was tough to turn down. 

How did you meet your wife?
Hayley and I met at a youth group while in middle school. Our relationship really began during a mission trip to Winston-Salem, NC. 

What’s your favorite thing about being a dad?
Tie between the snuggles and helping Bree develop her love of reading. 

What is something that your daughter, Bree, does that always makes you laugh?
Recently she’s been having Hayley and I join her in “how low can you go” where she slightly bends her knees and shakes back and forth. It’s absolutely precious. 

What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?
While in Mexico I tried an ice cream called “Chamo Mango” that tasted like mango at first but then had a chili pepper aftertaste that was very unique for ice cream. 8/10, would try again.

Who are your favorite sports team?
I’m a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. Family time and baseball often go together for the Prahlows.

Who is your favorite fiction writer?
Paul L. Maier. His book, A Skeleton in God’s Closet, definitely piqued my interest in theology and serving the Church.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?
I enjoy traveling and have been to 45 states and 14 countries.

What is your favorite movie?
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy. We watch it every Thanksgiving and quote it all year long.

What kinds of jobs have you worked outside ministry?
I’ve owned a lawn care company, cooked for a mom-and-pop pizza place, worked as a handyman, and put myself through college selling antiques and books on eBay.

Why do you believe God called you into ministry?
I believe God has given me particular gifts and a personal mission to serve the Church and further His kingdom. I’ve tried to work in a variety of areas, but God has keep pointing me back to equipping the saints.

Do you have any irrational fears? What are they?
Fear of heights. I used to not go up slides that were shorter than I am now. 

How would you describe your fashion style?
Casual #dadlife. 

Why did you choose to come to Rooftop?
The welcoming community, commitment to “mere Christianity,” and mission to make disciples who make disciples are all really exciting to us. I’m also very excited to serve alongside some awesome people as we move forward on the vision of planting a church.

Serving Jesus in Cincinnati

The High School Student Ministries mission trip called GO:Cincinnati began with a road trip to Ohio on Monday, July 2. The group stayed four nights at Cincinnati Christian University. They spent days working with BLOC (Believing, Living, One, Christ), a church planting organization that serves poor neighborhoods. 

Rooftop’s group cleaned church chairs, repainted buildings, mowed lawns, moved rocks and cared for children in after-school programs. In the evenings, they worshiped and prayed together and shared their own testimonies with one another.

We asked Donnie the Intern, the director of Rooftop's high school ministry, some questions about the trip. Here’s what he had to say.

What was the purpose of the trip to Cincinnati?
My volunteers and I wanted to teach high school students the importance of service. Also, since some of them will be going to college soon, I wanted to introduce students to the possibility of higher Christian education.
 
What kind of work did you do?
The most exciting kind of work! We cleaned churches, hung out with awesome kids, passed out food in communities- basic ministry, but so meaningful!
 
How did the people you serve respond to your work?
Honestly, a lot of the people who didn't work with the church we partnered with didn't care. It was easy to get discouraged. That's just kind of a part of doing ministry. The people who did respond responded positively and were very thankful.
 
How did God work in the lives of the students during the trip?
I think the trip just introduced students to the idea that serving God missionally doesn't mean going to another country. We think that "going to the ends of the earth" means going to another country. God can do incredible things in your own community. Students learned that being on mission is more than paying to go on mission trips. Being on mission for Christ means living as if your life, where you're at, is the mission field.
 
How did God work in the lives of the leaders/volunteers during the trip?
Honestly, all of my volunteers were incredible. They helped me stay calm, cool and collected. They served students in humility, loved hanging out with one another, and just grew as friends. God worked in our lives by bringing us closer together. 

Do you have an awesome God moment to share?
There was a teenager from the neighborhood named Jay who just kind of showed up during one of our meal times looking for some food. He was funny, outgoing, kind, and very polite. He kind of just attached himself to our group. We invited Jay to eat with us during the days. One time, we asked him to pray for the meal. He was nervous; nobody had ever asked him to pray out loud. He almost left and went home! Luckily, the students and volunteers encouraged Jay to pray. Jay said a little prayer, "Jesus, thank you for this food. Amen." Everyone said amen and cheered for Jay. They were all so encouraging to this guy we just met a few days before. I was incredibly proud of my students and SO proud of Jay.
 
What’s next for the High School Ministry at Rooftop?
We start up our regular Sunday night youth group meeting on August 5th. Come hang out with us!
 
How can the church support you in this ministry?
If you know of a teenager in the Affton community who needs some good friends, point them in our direction! Also, come volunteer. We're always looking to expand our team, and we would love to have some fresh faces for our 2018-19 Ministry year.

To contact Donnie about serving or participating in the high school ministry, email him at donnie@rooftop.org.

God Works in Little Lives, Too

 Rooftopper Nathan Young discusses a Bible lesson with his group of kids as a volunteer at VBS 2017.

Rooftopper Nathan Young discusses a Bible lesson with his group of kids as a volunteer at VBS 2017.

While Vacation Bible School might be fun and games, a lot more happens between songs and snacks. 
Leaders and volunteers witness God using little lives in big ways. 
“That’s why we do it,” said Erin Schrage, director of the Rooftots Children’s Ministry. “The whole trajectory of a family’s life can change because their kids go to VBS.” 
When Rooftop’s VBS kicks off again later this month, expect some great God moments for both children and volunteers.
 “I just love walking through the church and 20 kids can tell me their memory verse,” Schrage said. “Some kids in my Sunday school class remember the fruits of the spirit because of a song at VBS four years ago.”
In years past, families began attending Rooftop because their children loved VBS. Kids who learned about God’s love at VBS were baptized. Volunteers found a real connection with other adults while serving snacks.
Rooftopper Lauren Will, who has taken off work several years just to volunteer at VBS, said she loves getting to know the children. 
“Being able to connect with them and hear their viewpoints is awesome,” Will said “It reminds you that the gospel is so basic that a child can understand it. And if they can, I should be able to understand it.”

 Teen volunteers Andrew Ahrens and Ben Weissler teach kids at VBS their memory verse for the day. 

Teen volunteers Andrew Ahrens and Ben Weissler teach kids at VBS their memory verse for the day. 

The theme for this year’s VBS focuses on Babylon and the stories of Daniel’s courage. Kids will also hear about God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice. 
“My hope for VBS is that kids who know God can get to know him better,” Schrage said. “And kids who don’t know about Jesus will know where to find him maybe later on when it’s their turn to choose.”
VBS runs from 9 am until noon from Monday, June 25 through Friday, June 29. Registration is now open online for children age four through completed 5th Grade. Rooftop is still looking for volunteers who can serve one or all the days.
“The energy I get from those kiddos is really something to write home about,” Will said. “It’s is so addicting.”
Find registration for both children and volunteers at www.rooftop.org/vbs.

Foster Mom to Forever Mom

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Mother’s Day means a little something different to Rooftopper Renee Jeep this year.

Officials signed paperwork this week and set a date for her to adopt three adorable children – Stephen, 5, Vaeh, 4, and Maya, 3. Next month, her foster kids will become her forever kids.

“When I started fostering, I was open to whatever God placed in front of me,” Renee said. “I got better at trusting him and believing that his plan was bigger than mine.”

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God spent years preparing Renee for this moment. She never really liked kids until she took a job at a center for at-risk youth. Her heart broke for their pain, but she didn’t have a home to share.

Renee eventually moved in with her Aunt Jane, a high-school teacher who also passionately loved children. Tragically, Jane developed breast cancer and died in 2010. The grief crushed Renee, but God used the loss for good. In her will, Jane left her house to Renee.

“I always thought God had a plan for me to use my home for something more – to share it and fill it,” Renee said. “But I wasn’t sure how that was supposed to look.”

Renee thought about fostering children a lot but didn’t commit until she felt God speak to her through a friend.

“She said, ‘Just do it. You will not regret it,’” Renee recalled. “I think I needed to hear that. That day, I got online to find out how to get certified.”

The ink wasn't dry on her certification papers when state officials called her with a request to take a sibling group – two girls and a boy – with severe trauma. She loved them, but every day was a struggle to care for them.

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“There was never a moment when I was ready to check out,” Renee said. “There were times that I didn’t know what to do, who to ask for help or how to get through the day. But I was all in at that point.”

Officials eventually sent the sisters to homes where they would get skilled therapy and reunited the boy with his father. The experience left Renee emotionally exhausted, and she took a short break from fostering.

A few months later, she was ready to open her heart again. In June 2015, Stephen, Vaeh and Maya – who were 2, 1 and six-months-old at the time – came to live with her.

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Renee, 39, who is a co-owner of Lifeguards Unlimited, never really imagined getting married and having a baby, but she always wanted to be a mom. A single parent raised Renee, so she knew the challenges.

 “It’s an extra challenge doing it on my own,” Renee said. “Every day, at some point, I think about how it might be different if I had a partner.”

God used fostering to shape her faith.

“At first, it was just so hard. I was so desperate to want things my way. I prayed a lot that God would do it the way I wanted it, and almost always, that didn’t happen.” Renee said. “He showed me life was going to happen his way, and that way was going to be better.”

The adoption hearing is set for June 27.  Renee said her kids are very connected to each other and very good at loving people.

And even though Mother’s Day for a single mom with small children isn’t much different than any other day, this one will be sweeter.

"I love being a mother," Renee said. "Mother's Day is almost an excuse to just be with my kids and let go of all the other stuff for one day."

For more information about fostering and adoption, contact Rooftop's Fostering Faithful Families ministry at fff@rooftop.org.

Excitement flooded over me when the alarm buzzed at 6 am on July 21. Then came the wave of fear. A doctor was scheduled to pull my baby daughter from my womb in a cesarean section just three hours later. Soon I would snuggle my sweet, precious baby. I hoped.

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By Cathy Bixler

I’ve been thinking about serving at Rooftop for some time now.  I’ve attended church here for about 18 months and enjoyed Sunday mornings without contributing much time or thought.

On Sunday at the church’s Serving Fair, I loved the opportunity to see all the ministries in one place and learn about the work being done behind the scenes.  I dutifully signed up for quite a few...

 

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