The Orchard Blog

2008 Christmas Gift Mart! by orchardblog
December 18, 2008, 12:47 am
Filed under: Advent Conspiracy, Glocal

Gift_Mart_2008_050 Gift_Mart_2008_079

Ok, so here’s how it worked:

We asked all of you –  The Orchard Community – to buy and donate brand new toys.

The toys were then taken to Bardwell Elementary School on the east side of Aurora for an event called The Christmas Gift Mart which is an amazing event put on by our friends at Community Christian Church in Naperville.

Now the cool part….in case you don’t know…

The gifts weren’t donated to families in need.  They were sold.

For $2 each.

Why?  So that parents that would normally not be able to purchase gifts for their
children would be able to do so without simply receiving a “hand-out.”

And the really, really cool part?

The money raised by the sale of the gifts was poured back into partner schools in two communities.

And get this….  The same exact thing happened in Joliet as well as Aurora!

The results?

9,500 toys collected.

1,000+ volunteers.

3,500 community members blessed in Aurora & Joliet.

$11,500 raised for schools by the Aurora Gift Mart alone!

I’m telling you…  This was one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of!

And Orchard… guys are AMAZING!  Thank you, thank you, thank you for the 800+ toys you donated and to all of you who were a part of serving at the Gift Mart event!  What a beautiful way to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Orchard off to Uganda! by orchardblog
June 28, 2008, 1:08 pm
Filed under: Glocal, The Orchard


Just had the opportunity to pull our Uganda team together for a quick prayer before they headed to the airport. Can’t wait to see how God uses them! I’m so proud of these guys.

Posted by Scott Hodge

BIG News!! by scotthodge
January 2, 2008, 12:41 am
Filed under: Advent Conspiracy, Glocal, The Orchard


As most of you know, this Christmas we challenged our church community to make relational gift giving a priority with our families and loved ones. The idea behind this was to focus on giving gifts that will last far beyond just this season.

We then asked people to take whatever money they saved by giving relationally and to give it on Christmas Eve so that we could redistribute it to those in need. Our plan was to split it right down the middle and give half to a clean water project in Africa and then give the other half to a local organization in Aurora who provides food and other essential items to those in need.

Well, let me tell you… I am BLOWN AWAY by the response! Get this…

$22,700.00 was given towards Advent Conspiracy!

I can’t even begin to tell you HOW HUGE this is! What better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus then by showing His love to those in need?!

I’ll tell you… I am SO PROUD of The Orchard Community. I love how missionally you all think and live!

I cannot WAIT to see what what’s ahead in 2008!

Posted by Scott Hodge

God is at work in El Salvador! by orchardblog
August 3, 2007, 8:31 am
Filed under: Glocal, The Orchard

I wanted to share an email that I received a day or two ago from our missions team leader who is in El Salvador right now with a team from our church community doing work in a local orphanage.  Sounds like God is really using these guys in a big way.  Here’s a little bit of what Matt wrote:

Our flights were great, no delays, no crazy landings, half-decent food, the whole works.   And it was THAT night once we got to our ‘dorms’ that I began to realize what an awesome team we have.  This group SCREAMS diversity, yet since we left on Saturday, we have had a blast being with each other and serving.  Even though our team is all adults, we have ages from 18 to fifties.  We have marrieds and singles.  We have parents and non-parents.  We have 5 men and 5 women.  We have Spanish speakers and non-spanish speakers.  I can’t tell you enough that God crafted the team that He wanted to come down here.  We are discovering the talents and abilities that He specifically called us to be down here to use.   

Sunday was a special day for the home.  It was visitor’s day, which means that parents & family could come to the afternoon church service held at the home and then spend some time with their kids.  We were able to play some songs for them during their evening service and our entire team sang How Great Is Our God and Come, Now Is The Time To Worship.  The kids sang along too . . . in Spanish! But it was fantastic!

Today, we started our work projects.  A few people were working on painting some bed frames for the kids’ dorms and a few others helped clean and paint a huge exterior wall of the Benner’s house (the Benners are the ones who founded and run the ministry).  We also had a small team of people working on a very large retaining wall that will surround the medical clinic that the Benners are building.  And after long day at work, we got some great time to spend with the kids. 

Tomorrow, half of our team will be going to one of the surrounding poverty-stricken areas and take part in the feeding ministry (called Oasis).  The other half will go on Thursday.  Our group has said that it is very apparent how blessed we are in the United States, but once the group experiences Oasis, it puts things in an even greater perspective.  

Scott, I am really excited about this experience is changing people already.  You said it after your trip to Thailand and the Gardas said it last Sunday that most of the time the people who are affected most by a mission trip experience are those who went to serve.  We have been here two days and you wouldn’t believe the testimonies, the changed hearts, the self-reflection, and the motivation that people from this team have already developed.   God is certainly doing some work on us, and I pray that it is brought home and shared with more people in our church.   

Would you take some time today to pray for our team in El Salvador?  They will be back this weekend right in time for our BBQ & Baptism.  I can’t wait to hear the stories!

Posted by Scott Hodge 

Report from Birmingham by orchardblog
June 20, 2007, 6:17 am
Filed under: Glocal, The Orchard

I’ve been receiving some encouraging emails from our student team who is down in Birmingham, Alabama doing missions work.  It certainly sounds like THEIR lives are being just as impacted as the people’s lives who they are there to reach out to!  Isn’t that how it usually works?   Here are a couple of reports:

This whole trip has been very humbling altogether. I always knew that I could be a missionary here in my home town and everything because that’s what everyone always tells me but somewhere in my heart i always thought that, you know, going to another country was better though because they need more help than we do here. I have found how completely wrong I have been in that thinking. People need just as much help here as they do in Africa or Panama or something like that. It might be more “popular” to go to exotic places and help them out there, but after seeing the reality of poverty and hurt in my own country, I have seen how easily it has been overlooked.

The most awesome part of this mission trip though was last night. You see, there has been this drought in Alabama for the longest time. Last night we were all debriefing and were all so connected to eachother and God. I could totally feel God’s presence. Well I mean I know he’s always there but I could really tell that he was touching every single person’s heart. Everyone was still shocked at their day and amazed at the work God is doing and all of sudden… it started pouring. Immediately I thought of the Michael W. Smith song Healing Rain.  Healing Rain really is falling down. The work Tracy is doing down here. The things we are doing with these kids. The connections we are making with each other… it’s all healing rain. Falling down on Birmingham and soothing the hurt and the pain that poverty is bringing them. I love and miss you all, my Orchard family.

Thank you for keeping our students in your thoughts and prayers.  I’ll share more updates as they show up!

Posted by Scott Hodge