With a baseball cap and sunglasses shielding him from the searing sun, Donald G. Aiman of Flying Hills settled in for an afternoon of baseball Sunday.
The retired Spring Township police sergeant was one of the more than 4,800 first responders who attended Sunday's Reading Fightin Phils game at FirstEnergy Stadium for free as part of First Responder Appreciation Day.
Aiman sat along the first baseline with his daughter, Molly, 13, and girlfriend, Ruth Ostaficiuk of Bethlehem, anxious to cheer on the Fightin Phils.
"It's a great event, to be out and enjoying a Phillies game and to do that with a bunch of your family and friends," he said.
Aiman, who retired after being injured in the line of duty, said this is the first appreciation event he's ever attended.
"It's a great recognition," he said. "Hopefully they are planning to make this an annual thing."
Event organizer Mark Malizzi of Thunder Outreach, a faith-based community group, hopes to do just that and possibly more by expanding the event to cover several Sundays next year so that more first responders can attend.
He said his goal was to create a fun, relaxed day for first responders to spend with their families.
"It's a simple event," he said. "It's just a way to say thank you for what they do for the community."
Malizzi threw out a first pitch along with representatives from two other event sponsors: Jessica Prutzman from Berks Fire Water Restorations Inc. and Detective Sgt. R. Brian Horner of Northern Berks Regional Police and the president of the local chapter of the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.
Together, Malizzi said event sponsors were able to purchase tickets for 5,000 seats at Sunday's game against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to give out to local police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel. All first responders in attendance were recognized before the game began.
"We can never say thank you enough to our first responders," Malizzi said.
Horner, who has served as a first responder in several capacities throughout his career, said it's important to recognize and say thank you to these people.
"When there's an emergency, everyone else runs away, but first responders run in to help those in need," he said.
Prutzman, the communications director for Berks Fire Water, said the organization was more than happy to do its part in helping with the event.
"As a sponsor, it feels great to give back to first responders for the sacrifice they give every day," she said.
Saturday February 2, 2013
“Stepping Up” Men’s conference
Trinity Lighthouse Church
ACT LIKE MEN!
With fists raised in the air, this was our motto… Our “war cry” for the day! What does it mean, to “ACT LIKE MEN!”? It means NOT being passive. It means being COURAGEOUS. It means taking responsibility in your life. It means being aware of your weaknesses. It means knowing your strengths & using them to OVERCOME those weaknesses. It means identifying TRUE priorities & putting your relationship w/ GOD & FAMILY first… everything & everyone else? Take a number!
Sure, there was LOTS of testosterone in the air as 65+ men (ALL of whom were searching for answers, direction, accountability, encouragement & reassurance) came together and kicked off the conference w/ a Heaven’s Thunder-ized dose of “fuzzy-electric-guitar-chugging-bass-thumping-drum-pounding-piano-wailing-fist-pumping” worship to get everybody into gear! But hey, we’re GUYS! We like that sort of stuff!
But as we shifted gears & moved into the sessions we “got our bearings” and our journey was underway. With each step of the process, we not only got closer to what GOD intended for us to realize… learn… & achieve, but we also distanced ourselves from our OLD selves. Some parts of the journey were more treacherous for some than others, but that’s when it became time to “circle up” & talk with those in our group. Discussing/sharing concerns, fears, short-comings & personal experiences made it easier to get through those difficult stretches where the trail seemed to take a slippery turn or a rocky ascent. When this sort of bond takes place, you become aware that you’re not alone & that the obstacles ARE able to be conquered & that your destination is not only attainable but within your grasp.
“Stepping Up” not only takes a “step of faith” but it requires being courageous & “stepping out” of one’s comfort zone. Once you do that, you realize that the reward is worth the risk. So take that first step &… ACT LIKE MEN!
Reflecting on 2012 and how God enabled us to touch so many lives… MORE than we could have EVER anticipated!
Dear friends & loyal supporters,
We would like to take a moment to reflect on 2012 and how God enabled us to touch so many lives… MORE than we could have EVER anticipated! 2012 was all about NEW things for both Thunder Outreach and the Heaven’s Thunder Worship Team; from NEW relationships to NEW frontiers & horizons to NEW doors being opened and NEW goals being realized, God made Himself NEW, not only to us as a team, but to those whose lives we touched.
We started the year off in late winter by teaming up w/ the Reading Royals for a couple of visits to the Sovereign Center. One as a co-sponsor for the 7th Annual “Battle of the Badges” hockey game between the Police & Fire Dept’s of Reading, the other for a Faith & Family Night where we were blessed to have the opportunity to deliver some high-energy, faith-based, positive & uplifting music to the post-game crowd. The month of March moved us into some NEW territory as we visited Pastor Matthew Heckman & his flock @ Kochenderfer UMC up in LEBANON COUNTY. This relationship was enhanced by a second visit later in the year as we encouraged them to “Seek first the kingdom of God…”
As we moved into spring NEW relationships were sparked as we visited Ministerio Cosecha Divina (Divine International Harvest) and their Pastor Jose Hernandez. What we DIDN’T know is that God was preparing us to bridge the gap between multiple churches within the Latino community of Reading, PA for a “city-united” event in September called “Not One More Tear”, where we shared the stage w/ several Latino bands, ministers, pastors & worshippers as people came together to pray for an end to the violence in this city! If you would have told us 2 years ago that we would be working, ministering & worshipping hand-in-hand with the Spanish community we would have told you that you were loco!!! The HEART for WORSHIP & the LOVE for their community that these people have is incredible!
Things heated up for the summer as we worked w/ the Relay for Life 2012 campaign to bring something NEW to the Boyertown event. We were given the opportunity to minster, encourage, uplift & comfort so many people from all walks of life in a way many had never experienced before… through the power of praise & worship. The power & presence we felt that day was something we had never experienced before. What a blessing!
We rounded out the summer with a couple of visits to the Pocono Mountains. First we visited Pocono International Raceway where we worked w/ the PRO (Pennsylvania Racing Outreach) Team as they continued their outreach ministry to the NASCAR fans. Next we supported Grace Community Church in Lansford, PA as they held their annual block party outreach event. Pastors Jeremy & Victoria Benack have a heart for their community and it shows! They are doing a GREAT job of reaching the people in their town!
With FALL came “the light @ the end of the tunnel” as once again we partnered with VF Outlets @ their annual Hot Rod Classic car-show/food-drive. This year’s theme was the 70’s and man was it groovy! Next was the “Light in the Night” event @ Fairgrounds Square Mall where we ministered to & blessed over 3,000 kids in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. With support from both the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club (Chapter-4) and WORD-FM we were able to “PUSH BACK the POWERS OF DARKNESS!!!” and provide a family friendly alternative to Halloween.
I guess that about wraps it up for Thunder Outreach in 2012. So, what did you do this year? If you’re looking to get MORE involved in community outreach please contact us @ www.thunderoutreach.com. We would LOVE to have you as part of the team!
Thank you for your support & God bless,
Light In The Night 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Fairgrounds Square Mall
TOGETHER we can push back the darkness!
Sure, ONE person can have an impact… make a difference… brighten someone’s day. But wouldn’t you rather have a TEAM of people committed/dedicated to achieving a specific goal? I know I would.
It’s no different than the analogy of the BODY of CHRIST… head, hands, feet, etc. They ALL need each other & when they work TOGETHER, that’s where the TRUE glory resides… in TEAMWORK! Glory that can ONLY be given to God… After all, without each member of the “team” doing their part some aspect would suffer, or have to be sacrificed and left un-attended or incomplete. Sure, the end result might be “good” or “OK” but it would definitely be a shadow of what COULD have been.
That’s the kind of TEAMWORK needed to “push back the darkness” and that’s exactly the kind of TEAMWORK we saw @ the “Light in The Night” event hosted by Fairgrounds Square Mall on Wednesday, October 31, 2012!
With help from the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club (PA Chapter-4) and their president, Brian Horner, we not only handed out candy to 3,000+ kids throughout the evening but we did so in a family friendly environment we call a “Safe Zone”.
With help from The WORD-FM radio station & different performers/supporters such as DRAMA Ministry Team, Tiggar the Magician and The Art Bus we were able to give the kids & their families a HUGE dose of God’s Love and lots of GOOD FUN!
Pastors Jose Hernandez (Ministerio Cosecha Divina/Divine International Harvest) & CJ Ortega (City Reach Reading), along with members of their congregations, were a BIG part of tying it all together and being our “spiritual anchor” throughout the event.
But what undoubtedly had BIGGEST impact on the event were the Christian Farmers Outreach and their bead-bracelet program. Over 800 bracelets were distributed with 50+ lives being changed forever as they recited the sinner’s prayer & accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior! How AWESOME is that?
Click on the link to see a short "YOU TUBE" video about how Thunder Outreach shares God's Love in our Communities1
LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND!
Easier said than done? ABSOLUTELY! Can it be easier than we often times convince ourselves it is/isn’t? DEFINITELY!
The key is to first be THANKFUL… Thankful for what we have been blessed with or maybe thankful for what we haven’t had to endure. Just taking a look around us can often times help us
Saturday September 22, 2012
“Not One More Tear”
The Power of ONE!
There’s a song by U2 that has always spoken to me in a deep, thought provoking way. It speaks about the power of ONE… What ONE man can accomplish… GOOD or BAD. How ONE person can have a DEEP, lasting impact on not only their immediate circle of friends/family but those around the world.
To have that kind of IMPACT is something many strive for but few truly attain. It’s not as hard as one ß(there it is again) might imagine but it does have its requirements. For starters, you MUST take that FIRST STEP! The first step can & will be the hardest but, each step that follows will become “easier”. Maybe not easier in terms of completion or accomplishment but easier to see… to feel… to understand its importance & how each following step works with & builds off of the preceding step(s).
Next comes responsibility; If you have been tasked with a duty (and we ALL have, whether we like it or not) you are going to be held accountable to see it through to completion.
The BIGGEST requirement is PATIENCE… “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Heck, God’s work through his own son, Jesus, took 30+ years to accomplish. Let’s be real for a second… He’s God & if he wanted to do it @ the >snap!< of His almighty fingers, He could have. But where would the impact, the connection, the roots, the depth, the passion be in that? Jesus became who He was because of His walking amongst us… His touching us… Him being touched by us… WOW!
Are we not called to do/be the same to the world/community we live in? To be IN (but not OF) the world… To “walk alongside”… To touch those around us… To be “touchable” (reachable/accessible) by those who need to know someone is there for them in their time of need… But in order to do this EFFECTIVELY we, as the BODY OF CHRIST, must come together as ONE. That was the theme for this event. That the city of Reading, PA would join as ONE BODY, under ONE GOD with ONE HEART & ONE PURPOSE… to change the city of READING, ONE man, ONE woman, ONE child, ONE street corner, ONE block, ONE school @ a time!
Once we all get that concept, the victory shall be ONE!
Saturday August 4, 2012
Pocono Raceway Family Campground
Long Pond, PA
I GET IT, LORD…
Ever have one of those moments of doubt, where everything you’ve planned & prepped for seems to be getting more disorganized with each passing moment? Where every step you take seems to be followed by 2 steps backwards? Where every obstacle you cross, every mountain you climb seems to be followed by another one, more ominous than the last? Yeah… me too. And let me tell you, it can get downright frustrating! But then, just as you start to second guess yourself (and God) and are about to “pull the plug” you get a sign… a hint… a glimmer of HOPE that re-aligns your focus (not to mention bolsters your FAITH!) & says; “Continue on. I’m here. I’m in control. You are called to do this. Now DO IT!”
That was pretty much the foundation for our most recent event when we joined together w/ the PRO (Pennsylvania Racing Outreach) Ministry Team for the big 3-day NASCAR weekend @ Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA. From work schedules, to out-of-country visitors to family vacations @ the beach to childcare to car-pooling to the weather… every corner we turned only led us down another dark & twisted alley of uncertainty & doubt. Doubt so deep that God Himself had to remove it from within me by messing with my Pizza! “What did he just say?” YEP! You heard me right… The “Head Chef” messed w/ my pizza! Just as I was @ the point of throwing in the towel & about to settle for trying again next year He sends me a message… LOUD-n-CLEAR! (I love when He does that!)
To make a long story short; I order a CARRY OUT pizza from Pizza-Hut (are we still allowed to eat there?). They say “15-minutes”. I get there in 15-minutes. I pay. I wait… & wait… & wait. As I am waiting I’m pondering the whole situation & how it ISN’T coming together as hoped & I’m asking myself (and God) “Maybe we’re NOT supposed to do this event... Maybe I should just pull the plug.” Then it happens… after waiting 20 minutes LONGER than I was originally told, a man walks in, steps up to the CARRY OUT window (no more than 5-feet away from me), pays for his pizza & walks out… “Significance?” you ask. He does this while wearing a BRIGHT PINK T-shirt that says, you guessed it… “POCONO RACEWAY!!!” Then, as he turns to leave, they call my name & give me my pizza! Are you kidding me??? Really??? Ok, I get it Lord! I guess we’re going to Pocono! J
Now my FAITH is thru the roof! Suddenly work schedules are changing, car-pool plans are coming together. Even the weather threat is subsiding and it’s not even SATURDAY yet! But wait… He’s not done yet! As we are driving up the turnpike, approaching Pocono Raceway, we start to see clouds. As we get closer, they get BIGGER. As we pull in, it starts to rain, but there are still a few cracks in the clouds where we can see BLUE skies waiting for us. Turns out it’s just the edge of a passing storm and is gone in 10 minutes… Whew! Thank You, Lord!
But then we get the news: there’s a BIGGER storm coming w/ 40MPH wind & lots of rain, neither of which is good for an outdoor event… especially one that requires LOTS of sound equipment & the electricity to power it. So we do the only thing we can do… we join together with the PRO Team & we PRAY. We pray for safety. We pray for the weather (as thunder is rolling in the distance). We pray that God’s will be done. Now it’s in His hands… As we concluded our prayer time, we look above the canopy and see 1 small spot of blue sky directly above us and we claim that as a sign… A sign that HE is in control & is going to make a way where there seems there is no way. Needless to say, it barely sprinkled for MAYBE 5 minutes. Then it all blew out & the sky turned blue.
On our way home Mark makes an interesting point… if ALL of the issues we dealt with leading up to this event hadn’t happened… if there were no bumps in the road… if it had been smooth sailing… How could we have given God ALL the glory for what happened? It would be too easy to just say “Thank You, Lord for a nice day!” and go on our merry way. But where is the testimony in that? Where would the HOPE & encouragement be to those reading this that, even when things seem frighteningly grim & the odds are stacked against us, HE still cares & still comes through.
If yesterday was only about us trusting in Him & Him putting us in a position to give Him ALL the GLORY… That’s fine with me. Reminders are good. They help us re-focus & put/keep things in perspective. They keep us humble. They bolster our faith. They put us @ His mercy which isn’t such a bad thing. I get it, Lord… I get it.
Christmas in July!
Salvation Army Center
Saturday, July 14, 2012: MORE THAN JUST A GIFT!
When we give a gift, sometimes we have the tendency to look at it as just that… a gift… a present… a pleasant surprise, if you will. But all too often we underestimate the power of that gift, the impact it can have on someone’s life and we forget that a gift, in many ways, can be so much MORE than just a gift, especially to the one who receives it.
A gift can be an answer to prayer… sometimes endless prayers! Not only for the receiver but for those whose life is intertwined w/ the receiver… a friend, a neighbor, a relative? I think it’s safe to say, like it or not, that we have ALL had someone praying for us in some capacity @ some point in our lives… for a health issue/scare, for a relationship, for decisions we are faced with in our lives, for a job (speaking of which, I am still searching for one myself so please prayJ). It’s also probably safe to say many (if not MOST) of us have done the same for someone else.
What makes a gift a GIFT is that it is given without expectations… without selfish motives… without a requirement of the receiver. It is given in LOVE. The same LOVE that Christ spoke of in so many of His teachings. The same LOVE that God had for us when He sent His only son to die for our sins, to bear our burdens, to “clean our slate”. A LOVE undivided by our flesh & its selfish desires. A LOVE betrothed to us by our Father in Heaven. We may not always “deserve” the gift we are given but that doesn’t stop the giver from giving it.
What happened on Saturday, July 14, 2012 @ the Boyertown branch of the Salvation Army was ALL of the above and more! Thunder Outreach and their “Christmas in July” program blessed the lives of 25 children and their families. Families who are struggling to make ends meet in this current economic climate. Families who simply don’t have that “little extra” to spend to bring a smile to their children’s faces. From snacks to crafts to presents, the staff @ the Salvation Army in Boyertown took the time and put forth the hard work and dedication to make it all come together.
Especially a young lady named “Gabby” whose vision, heart and enthusiasm were so evident throughout this whole process that she has been dubbed a “Christmas Angel” by those around her. To see HER face light up with JOY as the children were handed their presents was, quite possibly, the GREATEST gift for us that warm, wintery day in July. God bless you, Gabby and may God bless the entire staff @ the Salvation Army in Boyertown! Merry Christmas!
With the help of the Blue Knights on their Motorcycles , there was more Thunder in this years 4th of July Parade! It was great to see the streets lined with families all waving flags and saying Hi as the Motorcycles rolled by. It was also very nice to see the way the Officers are being respected as we were talking with people.
As the Chaplain, I was able to have a prayer time before the ride and all things rolled very smoothly! Thank you Lord,
One of the best parts of this rides was that I was able to bring my daughter along on the Bike with me and have her be part of this moment!
Blessings to All!
Thunder Outreach Ministries