Monthly Archives: March 2014

Pastor Mike’s Weekly E-News

Good morning, Hope folks!

I love this time of year. The promise of new life is in the air, and in our hearts, as we anticipate the Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

Lent, the prelude to Easter, offers a season of turning – from old habits that keep us from God, to new disciplines that the Spirit uses to strengthen faith. Here at Hope, our focus during Lent is two-fold: pondering the parables of Jesus with their deep calls to a better way of life, and providing a major Kingdom expanding gift for new churches in Ghana (49 so far – thank you!). Heaven will be more crowded because of your generosity.

Clearly, God wants his Kingdom to be full. Jesus told a powerful parable (Luke 14:16-23) confirming this point, and that story will serve as the theme that Pastor Dave and I will be preaching on this weekend at Hope. Come and fill God’s house!

Mike Housholder
Pastor. Parable preacher. Cyclones fan.

P.S.- For those who heard about, but feel like you missed out on, the post-worship baptisms that took place a few Sundays ago … the next open baptismal service at Hope, including an option for full immersion in the Worship Center baptismal pool, is scheduled for Sunday, April 27 at 12:30 pm. To sign up for this inspiring event, you can click here, or please call the church office at 515-222-1520.

Hope Story: Mary and Bill Newgard

If you hang around the halls of Hope long enough inevitably someone will ask, “What is your Hope Story?”

Ours starts with the TV show, Seinfeld (as most good things do!)…

It was 2006. My husband, Bill, and I were a young married couple and had just moved back to Des Moines from eastern Iowa.

We had driven past Hope millions of times on the way to our home. Both of our parents had raised us to faithfully attend church, but we hadn’t done a very good job of carrying that torch.

So, whenever we drove on Jordan Creek Parkway, we quickly glanced at the building, even though God was urging us to take a much longer look…

We did so one Sunday (not by accident as Hope would say) which turned into three straight weekends, prompted largely by Pastor Mike’s inclusion of two Seinfeld clips and one from ESPN…

It was, shall we say, a “Festivus miracle!”


We were hooked.

Fast forward a few years and now we were parents to twin daughters, Alison and Jenna.

We wanted the same center of faith our parents gave us, and Hope has been an amazing part of that.

When our daughters were babies, we utilized the nursery during worship so we could worship together without distractions.

When they became old enough to attend Kingdom Quest (Hope’s version of Sunday School), we figured it would be much the same.

A few weekends into the school year,  our daughters’ classroom was short on volunteers and we were pulled in to help.

We quickly realized we enjoyed helping out the “real teachers” – not thinking we were:

A) qualified for such a job


B) God wanted any more from us than that.


Boy, were we wrong!

Today, Bill and I are in our fourth year of teaching KQ. We’ve been so blessed by God’s gentle nudge to get involved in children’s ministry. Had it been more like a 2×4 upside the head, I think we would have pushed back with all typical fears that come with letting Him lead us into serving…

Things like:

  • “How much time does this involve?”
  • “We don’t know all these Bible stories!”
  • “Will we ever be able to attend adult worship again?”

Bill put it best earlier this year. Walking out one Sunday after KQ, he commented how great it is that we can serve together.

In that moment I had a clear sense of what the ministry has brought to our family.

We are blessed every time we teach to be around such bright, caring and enthusiastic kids (many of whom we’ve had in our class for all four years).

They happily raise their hands and jump for joy during music worship. And, despite our stoic Lutheran sensibilities, we’ve become quite the Jesus shufflers, too!

Hope is so big, yet it’s no accident we see many of the same parents around Hope, at school or the grocery store.


The Bible stories take on new meaning every time we discuss them with the children – seeing them so readily accept the Good News teaches us to hear His word with a childlike heart.

Our family is blessed to be a part of Hope’s children’s ministry. It is our prayer that more families will find their opportunities to serve together, wherever that may be! And, who knows, maybe for them it will be through KQ? If so, we’ll see you there!Serving in a ministry does that to all us, right? You find that what you put into God, gives back tenfold.

* * *

There is an immediate need for KQ volunteers at the 11:00 am Sunday service at Hope West Des Moines for the remaining school year! If you or someone you know is interested, please email


Pastor Mike’s Weekly E-news

Hi, Hope Folks!

Big things have been happening on Sundays lately…

This past Sunday, March 16, Hope was featured on the front page (plus three more pages inside) of the Des Moines Register. If you missed it, here’s a digital link.

Hanging out at Hope for the past few weeks, reporter Timothy Meinch discovered our heart. Building plans and budgets are secondary matters around here. Our far deeper passion is to reach out and share the powerful, life-changing love of Christ with those who are hurting and lost. I’m thankful that Meinch’s well-written story emphasized substance over style. It’s a good news day when any church makes headlines for letting the light of Jesus shine through! (Matthew 5:16)

Two Sunday’s ago, March 9, something happened after the 9:15 & 11:00 am services that still blows me away. 86 people were baptized. 77 of them did so, Spirit-led and spontaneously, after I made an unscripted invitation during my sermon for anyone who had come to faith in Christ recently to be baptized after the service (Acts 10:47). Awkwardly standing alone by the baptismal pool in the Worship Center after the service, I was praying for just one convert …

One came forward.

Then another.

Suddenly, there was a long, beautiful line (see photo). A few were children, and a few were renewing their baptism from way back when, but most were adults who had never been baptized. Wow. God is good! I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m not sure I ever will again. But I’m grateful.

This Sunday, March 23, (and Saturday the 22nd),  who knows what great things God might have planned for us? This much I know… Pastor Jeremy and I will be preaching on Jesus’ classic story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). The music will inspire. The ministries will be in full-service mode. The smiles from your church family will warm your heart. And – best of all – God promises to show up and meet us here in his house. Come and see.

Mike Housholder
Pastor. Preacher. Awestruck baptizer.

P.S.- Our Lenten Outreach Project to build new churches in Ghana is off to a fantastic start. Just two weeks in, you’ve already given enough to build 29 churches! Thank you! If you’d like to contribute, you can give online here, or bring your offering to the Welcome Center this weekend.

Hope Story: Rick Amundson

DSC_0807I would consider myself a “crock pot” Christian. A slow cooker.

I’ve never had the big “Ah-Ha”  moment. No switch ever flipped that made me say, “I’m a believer!”

All of the ingredients were lovingly and slowly brought together – set to simmer – and after the right amount of time, I was ready.

After discovering Hope, it started to all make sense to me.

All of the lessons of my life, good and bad, started to point to God.

God’s word was finally put into a context that was relevant to my life.

We are all given our own set of spiritual gifts from God – the Bible tells us this, and so I believe it.

I’m lucky; I know not everyone realizes what exactly their gifts are. But, I know what one of my gifts is, and I get to use it almost every day.

By trade, I’m a filmmaker who gets to tell stories for a wide range of clients, from commercial to corporate. I’ve even been fortunate to have directed a feature film.

But, my question for God was, “How do I use this gift for you?”

In 2006, I got an answer…


God presented me with the opportunity to join Pastor Pat on a mission trip to South Africa to learn about the needs in an area called Umzimvubu.

Pat asked if I would  document the trip and then present a video to the congregation.

What I saw there was such a strange dichotomy. Poverty, the effects of HIV/AIDS, widows, orphans and the struggles that come from living in an area with no running water or electricity.

But, the landscape was beautiful. The people were joyful, open and giving – praising God for what they did have, not wallowing in what they didn’t have, like I so often found myself doing.

That trip changed my heart. Africa became a part of me.

Months after the trip, I was introduced to Dr. Neil Mandsager, board member of ChildVoice International, Hope’s Mission Uganda partner.


Northern Uganda is a country ravaged from 25 years of civil war. ChildVoice has been working in this region since 2007, running a program that provides sanctuary to young mothers and their children, allowing for spiritual and psychological healing, as well as vocational training and life skills.

Since then, I have been an active volunteer, creating many videos to help tell the story of how God is working through ChildVoice to transform the lives of broken girls.

I’ve participated in many trips to Northern Uganda – and every trip I take is a God thing.  The door keeps opening, and because I trust His plan, I go…

* * *

Where might God be calling you to go? There’s still time to register for 2014 Summer Mission Trips. Click here to learn more.

Wordless Wednesday

spontaneous baptism line

The Holy Spirit was on the move this weekend when spontaneous baptisms took place following services Sunday morning, where 52 people were baptized (and another 34 reaffirmed their baptisms). It was amazing to witness! Praise God for our new brothers and sisters in Christ!


Hope Story: Becky Zemlicka

I have always been physically active – not an “athlete” by any means, but active.


Then, in my early 30s, I noticed my knees were getting sore. Walking and climbing stairs became painful.

In 2009, a surgeon discovered I had a torn meniscus in my right knee. I had surgery and my knee was back to about 90%.

In May 2013, an MRI showed a torn meniscus in my left knee. A second surgery was scheduled for July 31, 2013.

At Hope I have been involved in the prayer ministry for more than 10 years. This past July, I was asked to fill in for Pastor Richard and teach the healing prayer lesson in his School For Listening Prayer.


During the class, the participants were asked to practice healing prayer. Two students prayed for healing for my knee. Nothing happened. No goose bumps. No miraculous recovery. I remember thinking, ‘well, that was nice of them,’ and resigned that I was meant to be healed by the surgeon.

Monday morning, as I dressed for my morning workout, I noticed my knee felt better and the swelling was down. It wasn’t until my personal trainer suggested I try leg presses that I recalled the healing prayer I had received days earlier.

Knowing my knee wouldn’t bend far enough to do a leg press, and even if it did I would be in pain, I started to say, “No!” But a voice inside me said, “Just try it.”

So, I did.


My knee slid right in to place with no pain, bending farther than it had in over a year. I pressed my body weight a total of 45 times. I was amazed, stunned… and excited!

The following week was filled with new ways to try out my “new” knee. Running up and down stairs, lunges at the gym, biking with my family, and walking several miles during a family vacation – all without any pain or swelling.

My right knee had improved and my left knee had gradually healed, so I cancelled the surgery for my left knee.

My healing has been nothing short of a life-changing gift from God.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said in the last few months, “Do you realize I couldn’t have done this if I hadn’t been healed?”


Many people have asked if I can get an MRI to show my knee is healed.

Unfortunately, no. But I don’t need one.

God healed me and my “new” knees speak of his power and glory with every step!



The next School for Listening Prayer class begins in West Des Moines on Monday, March 24 – click here to register or learn more!


Pastor Mike’s Weekly E-news

Hi Hope Folks!

Signs of new life are starting to show outside. Soon, the snow will melt (I have faith!), grass will green, tree branches will come alive and flowers will bloom. Around Hope, it’s the same story … lots of new things to celebrate!

+ New Lenten Sermon Series – “Jesus Stories”

We started this year of “Roots & Renewal“ with a closer look at the Ten Commandments. Now, we’ll move from Old Testament law to New Testament parables, told by Jesus to help his followers wrap our brains around some key faith building concepts. Jesus, of course, was a masterful storyteller, and I can’t wait to get going on this new series … our sermons (from Pastor Jeremy and I) this weekend are based on the Parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin in Luke 15. Make a commitment to worship weekly during Lent … it could be a life-changer for you!

+ New churches in Ghana – Lenten Outreach Project

Throughout the season of Lent  (40 days leading up to Easter), we have another amazing opportunity to help grow the Kingdom of God through offerings to construct new church buildings in Ghana. Two years ago, we raised enough money to build 116 village churches there, all of which are now up and running.  As a result, thousands of new believers have been introduced to Jesus Christ and baptized, and villages without a Christian church now have one. Each church costs $3,500 to build (yes, you read that correctly). Maybe God is calling you, or your small group, to build a church (or two or three or more) in Ghana. Pray about it. Follow God’s lead. 100% of your gift goes directly to the construction and furnishing of these new church buildings.

+ New Group Launch – Tuesdays at 6:30 pm

Hope is a big church, but like living in a large town, once you find your neighbors and family, it suddenly becomes a very friendly place (think Mayberry)! That’s why we offer “Group Launch” every few months – the perfect opportunity for you to find your place at Hope and connect to a new Life Group. All you have to do is show up at church this Tuesday, March 11 at 6:30 pm (you can register here). It’s easy. It’s safe. Childcare is provided. All are welcome. Discover the joy of experiencing church life together, in community with other Christians just like you!

Lots of other new things (and plenty of good old things, too) going on at Hope right now … but I’m out of space. Thanks for reading, and see you Sunday (or Saturday) at worship!


Mike Housholder

Pastor. Preacher. Thankful for all the new things that keep coming to Hope!

P.S.- Remember the time change — “Spring Forward” one hour — this Sunday.

A little history on “giving up” things for Lent

Giving up something for Lent has been taking place for almost as long as Christianity has been around.

Initially, it focused primarily on giving up something that one ate or drank, even fasting of one meal or more each day.

Soon, it evolved into giving up certain luxuries or types of food.

In more modern times, it has often meant giving up something which a person deems harmful in their lives – alcohol, salt, sugar, meat, candy, soda, etc.

Sometimes, any material gain that is realized by giving up something is given away to some charitable cause at the end…

Like most tenants of Christianity – think Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day (Hallowed Eve) –  this practice of giving up something for Lent has entered into culture. Thus, we begin to see things popup like lists of  “The Top Ten Things to Give Up.”

Many atheists claim this tradition of giving something up for Lent has no religious connotation. People give up chocolate or Facebook or pizza or popcorn or shopping, or whatever it is, and much of it has nothing, or very little, to do with the original meaning of sacrifice as a means of penitence (of joining Jesus in his ultimate sacrifice), but becomes just another momentary fad.

At Hope, we enter into the season of giving up something for Lent each year with something very specific –  namely our hard-earned money. Over the years during Lent, we have raised nearly half a million dollars for malaria nets in Africa, dug more than 140 wells for clean water in Ghana (at $8,000 per well), built 116 churches in Ghana, and provided more than 1.6 million meals for Haiti.

In 2014, through our “If We Build It, They Will Come” campaign, we are again encouraging people to “give up” so we can build scores of new churches in Ghana, and help introduce thousands of new people to Christ.

This year, with every $3,500 that’s donated, a church structure, drums, seating, altar, gas lamp and five Bibles will be provided to a village in need. Our mission partner, Globeserve, has been working hard to train leaders to lead these future churches – and now, all they need is a place to send them.

A pretty neat thing about these Lenten projects is that by giving to a specific need during Lent, it has far more resonance and lasting quality than giving up a particular food or drink, for example.

Long after Lent has passed, and people go back to doing whatever it was they gave up, the wells and the new churches will still be providing water, and living water, for thousands of people.

So, this Lent, consider being a part of “If We Build It, They Will Come” – a Lenten project that is transforming lives, villages, churches… and nations.

Pastor Merv


Learn more about Hope’s 2014 Lenten Project, “If We Build It, They Will Come” here.