While coming a little late, we are sending out our 2010 Year in Review, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holiday Update, and it was it a jam packed year for us.
Our year started off in an exciting way as we became grandparents. Aaliyah Monroe Elise Furches was born. Our Granddaughter is a beautiful little baby. She was born in February to our daughter in law, Emily. She was tiny like both Nathan and Emily but has tons of spirit, (in a good way.) She has been a joy as we keep her most every weekend and take her to church with us. It seems as if the year end will be a good time for us as we transition into being grandparents. Mary Jane is Nanny and I am PeePaw. Seems like we will have that experience again, late Spring, Early Summer as Marathana and Brett are also expecting their first child.
Mary Jane continues to teach at Derby Middle School and while there have been health issues some this year, she is back in full swing of things as of the Christmas season. A bout with a sinus infection, ear infection, flu, and cancer concerns all at the same time didn’t make things easy, but God is good, and she is in full health, doing just fine.
While the year saw many blessings, which I will mention later, we also had some difficulties. Among the chief of those was our moving from Clearwater as a result of the downward economy. We had a lease option on the purchase of our country home, which sat on 2 ½ acres, complete with a barn, pasture and more. The burm underground house was a house we loved but our landlord filed bankruptcy and as a result we ended up having to move. It showed us a great deal about the economy, banks and lending institutions as we tried to make an offer on the house, purchase it and so forth, and the banks, lending institutions and more wouldn’t even speak with us until the house went before the courts. As a result, after about a year of this, we finally decided to move. The house still sits vacant, overgrown, and now the property of the bank, and they will get substantially less for the house at auction than what we offered for it.
All isn’t bad though as we have relocated to Park City Kansas, just to the north of Wichita. In fact, while we live in Park City, it is strange that it is either a Park City or Wichita address. We ended up finding a little house just perfect for us. I could go into detail there but will say, nothing like living in a smaller community which is really making strides at being a community. We woke up one morning only to find out that our house sits right on the Park City Parade route. While Park City may be better known for the former serial killer BTK, Dennis Radar formerly living here, this little town is much more than that. Our new address for snail mail is 6441 N. Hydraulic, Park City, (or Wichita) KS 67219. If you are ever in the neighborhood come on down. We have a great Mexican restaurant within walking distance, a number of other good restaurants, including the local favorite, Cracker Barrel. Our new phone number is 1-316-807-8034 and The Virtual Pew and The Keystone Kid has a toll free number, it is 1-800-344-5013
I continue to pastor at Mosaic Church in Wichita. We have had some good, and bad problems occur which have made it difficult. We were renting space, which we had outgrown. While we had the option of going to 2 services, the furnace on the building never worked appropriately, finally went out all together and the landlord expected us to replace the furnace. We have since started meeting at Pawnee Avenue Church of God, and have made an offer on a location downtown which we will be relocating to later on. The new space will allow us to continue our outreach to the homeless as we will be one block away from the primary hangouts for the homeless, and the arts community as we will be downtown Wichita.
Mosaic has also been impacted by the economy. We have several people out of work, and others who are unable to contribute to the needs of the church financially. We continue to move forward though and many growing in discipleship. Currently there is no guarantee of salary for me from the church as we are at a vulnerable place, even though we have grown. We may likely always need to be seen as a missional church as we reach out to many who aren’t able to contribute. Once we relocate to our location, it is likely that we will experience many homeless and others coming to our church who will not be able to give. The funding we received from our organizational group ran out this year, and we are seeking support from various other individuals and churches. As to my needs, while it is still tough, God continues to come through and meet our needs, and thankfully, sometimes our wants.
This was an exciting year for Mary Jane and me as we also were able to take a vacation. We didn’t go far but went to Amarillo, Texas. Along the way we stopped in Oklahoma City and points of interest along the way including the Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere, Erick Oklahoma the home of Roger Miller and Sheb Wooley and many other wonderful locations like that. The highlight of the trip was the Palo Duro Canyon outside of Amarillo and getting to see, have dinner with a dear longtime friend, Mary Diane Goin and her husband George, whom I hadn’t seen in many years since living in Greenville, South Carolina. What a wonderful word of encouragement she had for the both of us. While in Amarillo we also made a point to attend church as we visited the Cal Farley Boy’s Ranch. If ever in the area, make sure you visit this wonderful ministry.
This was also a year to reconnect with other friends. We were truly blessed as long time friends visited us. David Loewen, a friend from Tabor College and his girlfriend, Sherry visited us. David attended church with us and shared some while there. He and I were actively involved in the jail ministry while in college.
We also had Guerry (Garvy) Harvell from Greenville visit and stay with us for a couple of weeks. Garvy helped our band as we played a few times out, and he also helped out at church while here. We took Garvy around to see some of Kansas and it was so good seeing this old band mate and dear brother.
One of the tough things this year, especially with the release of my book, The Keystone Kid was my web site www.thevirtualpew.com being hacked twice by hackers and finally put down. As a result I lost almost 3,000 email contacts of individuals who had requested to receive information from The Virtual Pew. That resulted in a serious loss of income for our family as many of the regular donations that came in from that web site were lost due to us not being able to send reminders and so forth. We are actively trying to rebuild that web site and get it back up and going. While much of the ministry and work of The Virtual Pew has continued, the hacking and loss of the web site had a negative impact in many regards.
There was good news though, the release of my book, The Keystone Kid did take place. The book is starting to pick up in sales via word of mouth. I am still working with the publishers at making sure some things are taken care of. The last month of the book has actually been quite positive in sales and I hear almost daily from people who have been touched and helped from the book. The book is available worldwide and via Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other retailers. It is published by Friesen Press and is distributed by Ingrim Distribution. You can find out more about it at www.thekeystonekid.com
Also pre production of the short, The Long Walk, a film by Titus Jackson and Tiroma Films is complete and the final steps are in place to finish the short based on the book. We will be using that short to raise funds for the feature film and are excited about the rough draft of the short. Rob Cassels from The Rob Cassels Band will score the final project, some correction, editing, and a little more will be done prior to the completion of the film. We have had some delay in this project due to Titus mother having cancer and he and his family dealing with that. Pray for Titus and his family during this tough time. His mother is a wonderful woman whom I had the honor of meeting during the filming of The Long Walk, she was a reminder to me of the importance of this story, and a ministry like The Virtual Pew, and a church like Mosaic.
In closing, this year, I have been reminded of the need of a Savior, the need for the Light of Christ in the darkness of this world. I continue to grow and mature in my faith, never giving up on what Christ has done for me, and our family. I have been blessed to have many friends there with me along the years, many who, like me are followers of Christ, others, who are not. While I could wish none of my friends more or better than Jesus, I am nonetheless grateful for all of my friends, many of which have supported and helped us over the years, I cannot say thank you enough.
This Christmas, I am reminded of the lessons of Dickens in his classic story, A Christmas Carol. Sometimes the scrooge isn’t the one who doesn’t observe Christmas; the scrooge is the one who doesn’t recognize the needs of those oppressed by society, those who for whatever reason have less. Many of faith talk about how as a society we shouldn’t expect the government to help the poor, because the church should be doing it, yet, many do nothing or very little. I can’t help but be reminded during this season, that Jesus was a redeemer of the poor. He told us to provide for, help and be with the poor and needy, the orphan and the widow. Every Christmas our family takes time to provide for the homeless, the poor, and poor children. While we are limited in what we can do, we are blessed that many come along and help. This Christmas, this New Year, I want to affirm that our family will continue that ministry, but we challenge all of those receiving this to also do what they can, to not be a scrooge, but to share in the love of our fellow human beings by doing and being all that we be.
From our household, we sincerely say thank you for your friendship, and we truly do wish you and yours, the best Christmas, and Holiday Season possible. We love because Jesus loves us, and loving others in return is a reflection of the love we believe Christ would have each of us live out, and besides, it brings so much more joy and is easier to do than hating.
Love to all and Merry Christmas,
Mike and Mary Jane Furches
The following video is a link to the video using some of the quotes that has started coming in on the book. It has been a blessing getting to meet people as well as hear their own stories of how the book has helped them in their recovery. God is good, just click on the video to see some of the quotes, if the video doesn't appear, just click on the following link:
Here is a video of the Christmas Santa Homeless project we do each year. This year we were blessed to have people across the nation participate. Just as above, if the video appears, just click on it, if it doesn't, simply click on the following link:
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