Ministry Update – New Year, New Staff

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This year’s staff retreat was my favorite one so far. With a new official IC president, several new staff members, amazing results from 2017, and lots of exciting plans for this year, we had a powerful and encouraging time celebrating what God is doing through our ministry

 

What’s New?

  • Staff Members: In addition to the office staff who joined us last quarter, we have just welcomed a new Executive Director of Development, a new Area Strategy Team VP, and two Mobilization Coordinators! Now we’re looking for someone to join my media team to focus on email campaigns, graphic design, and social media. If you know a digital creative who wants to use their skills for the Kingdom full or part-time, please send them my way.
  • Book Project: I’m working with Reanna (our Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives) to compile and edit stories from the mission field submitted by our own staff members into a book! We’re planning to film some of these stories for a later documentary, as well.
  • Open Doors: Our staff prays every day for the Lord to open doors to the countries in which we haven’t yet worked, and we’ve seen miraculous answers for a few of those in hard-to-reach places in the past weeks.
  • Crossover Dallas: I met with local Baptist association leaders this month to connect our N2N evangelism project in June with the Crossover Dallas initiative preceding the SBC Annual Meeting. Our teams will focus on Spanish-speaking communities downtown. Stay tuned for more developments, and pray for me as I work on my Spanish.
  • 2018 Trips: Remember to check out the schedule to learn more about where you can go in 2018. I’m planning to go to Mongolia in July — Join me!

Over a MILLION salvations were reported in 2017 from our projects around the world!

What’s Next?

  • Intro Video: God has done so much in the past year that our current IC intro video is out of date — so I’ve begun production on a new one.
  • Ministry Partnership Development: The Lord is providing for my family well, but I’m still building our support team in order to be fully-funded for the long run and better able to focus on work. I’m praying and planning to finally meet that goal by April. Because we didn’t make it to Tennessee in December, I’ll make a trip at the end of February (or early March) to visit partners and invite new ones to join us on mission.
  • Social Media: In response to Facebook’s newly-announced intentional suppression of official Pages and prioritization of “meaningful interactions”, I’ll be tweaking our social media strategy to focus more on organic engagement, personal testimonies, and conversations. Our ministry is based on relationships, so this is really a natural extension of our culture — but it requires participation and buy-in. So please pray for our staff and friends to get on board to help us share our stories and opportunities with people who Jesus is calling to join us in the Great Commission.

Family Updates

  • Vehicle issues: We experienced a brief season where both of our vehicles were out of commission, but God intervened and provided. Thanks for all of your prayers, and special thanks to those who offered their generous help.
  • New Small Group: Our church “small” group got big, so we multiplied out and we’ve just started a new one led by former foreign missionaries. We get along pretty well so far and are excited 🙂
  • Worship Center Prep: We just started volunteering to fill seat backs in the worship center (with connect cards, sermon note sheets, and envelopes) as a family. Hopefully it’ll go well.
  • Ella Jane turned 8 this month! 

If you know someone I should talk to about ministry partnership, I would highly value an introduction. Especially you, Tennessee folks! If you’re considering a special gift or monthly financial partnership, I’d love to chat with you.

Jesus is going to do BIG things this year beyond what we can ask or imagine. I’m so glad my ministry partners are with us on this journey — thank you for your effective prayers!

If you’re thinking about mission trips for 2018, check out the schedule and apply to go!

Let us know how we can be praying for you. Blessings!

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Ministry Update — Call Me Colorado

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“We will do the work of God 365 days a year, because you showed us how it can be done.”

– Silvio Quiroga, Iglesia Bautista Philadelphia

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Highlights

  • 535 souls were saved this month in Buenos Aires, Argentina! I joined 18 Americans, 6 Brazilians, 5 Chileans, and 42 nationals to train and work with members of 12 local churches to share the gospel in their communities. 

 

  • My team spent the week winning souls with members of Iglesia Bautista Philadelphia in the Dock Sud neighborhood just outside of downtown Buenos Aires. This fellowship lived up to their name; they showed us incredible brotherly love.

 

  • The project got off to a slow start, because this church didn’t have as many home visits arranged as we had hoped. But God had a plan that was better than ours. During the last few days, the young adults and teens of the church were able to join us and they caught the fire after experiencing the thrill of evangelism. They started taking us to friends, neighbors, and family members. They went with us to the park and around the streets to strike up conversations with strangers. They easily took over sharing the gospel when we put Evangecubes in their hands and said, “your turn!”

 

  • I love seeing hundreds or thousands of salvations during an IC trip, and our little team did see about 35, but sometimes the project is about more than that. Our main job is to equip and enable the local churches to share the love and message of Jesus with their communities. During the closing rally at the end of the week, four of the church members who had been working with us walked up to give their lives to ministry!  Lisandro, Rocio, Luna, and Silvio are committed to continuing this work throughout the year. That’s what it’s all about.

 

  • I got another mission trip nickname from Rocio, Luna, Delphina, and other new friends. They call me “Colorado” (which they say means “red-faced, like blushed”) because of my beard.

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Family Ministry/Updates

  • Family Time: We loved hosting Bucky’s parents for Thanksgiving and sharing very Texan experiences with them; visiting the Ft. Worth Stockyards and a Buc-ees gas Station (just believe us; it’s a big deal).
  • Adoption: Amariah’s adoption finalization is December 8!
  • Neighborhood reach: We’re planning to host another Christmas party to engage with our neighbors this year. Pray for new and cultivated friendships!

Thank you for supporting us through your encouragement and prayer! We’re only able to do this work because we’re equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit and enabled by our ministry partners.

Let us know how what practical or prayer needs you have this Christmas season.

Blessings!

Ministry Update — Celebration Time – C’mon


What’s New?

  • Celebration Season: We had our last Celebration Dinners in Ft. Worth, Lubbock, and Amarillo this month. It was a joy to hear more stories and music from our visiting Brazilian, Russian, and Israeli friends and to meet some I.C. founders and long-time participants out west. I also enjoyed reconnecting with some of my Ghana team members. New friendships are one of the many blessings that come along with this ministry. Less enjoyable was my sickness on the day of the Lubbock event, but God blessed me with a private hotel room and some cancelled meetings so I could recover the following day before we headed to Amarillo. In all honesty, I’d much rather be sick on a trip in the U.S. than overseas.
  • 2018 Projects:  Remember to check out the schedule to learn more about where you can go in 2018!

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What’s Next?

  • Argentina: I’m geared up to capture stories, shoot photos, share the gospel, and lead part of our team in Buenos Aires next month. I can’t wait to work with the local believers and internationals to win souls there!
  • Giving Tuesday! There’s #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday…and then there’s #GivingTuesday, an international day of giving! After Thanksgiving, lock arms with us to give the hope of Christ to the lost around the globe. The success of our Giving Tuesday campaign depends on the participation of friends and partners like you who will give, like and share posts, and tell the world why you support International Commission.  Stay tuned on IC’s social media to learn more about what exciting things we’re cooking up for this year and to join in on the fun!

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Family Updates

  • There’s a common theme in missionary newsletters that you’ve not seen in one of ours yet: vehicle needs. Alas, we have finally been christened with such a dilemma, as my SUV needs an engine replacement that will cost about $2,300. We certainly don’t have that lying around, so we’re praying about what to do. We know God will provide in some cool way as always, so we simply ask that you will join us in prayer — for favor with mechanics, for wisdom, for God to meet our need however He deems fit, and for peace as we wait.
  • We were blessed to visit family in Missouri on our way to Tennessee for a wedding this month, and although our time in Spring HIll was very brief, we got to see several of our beloved ministry partners — miraculously, on a couple of occasions! We plan to be back to spend more time with others in December. If you’re part of our TN crew, let me know if you’ll be around the week after Christmas.

Thank you for enabling us to do this. It’s a crazy, adventurous life, but we wouldn’t have it any other way and we couldn’t ask for better ministry partners.

If you’re thinking about year-end giving and would like to support this Great Commission work financially, you can do that here. I’m still working on completing out monthly partnership team, so we would be honored if you would consider getting on board next year.

If you’re thinking about mission trips for 2018, check out the schedule and apply to go!

Let us know how we can be praying for you. Blessings!

Ministry Update – Very International Commission

We had a very international month at the International Commission headquarters with eight countries represented among our staff at the office and our celebration dinners.

Visiting leaders from Brazil, Austria, Israel, and Russia joined office staff members originally from Romania, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, and the United States for a time of encouragement, planning, celebration, and prayer. This is what Jesus had in mind.


What’s New?

  • Celebration Season: We had very successful and inspiring celebration dinners in Oklahoma City, Tyler, and Dallas in September. We’ve introduced new people to our mission projects, told stories of life change around the world, and raised funds to grow IC’s work throughout the nations.
  • 2018 Projects:  We’re still developing international projects for next year, so keep your eye on the schedule to learn more about our projects and see where you’ll follow the Lord in 2018!
  • New staff: We just welcomed a new part-time staff member and a new volunteer at the HQ office, and I couldn’t be happier about it!
  • Nerdy stuff: I recently switched our organization to Zoom for video/teleconferencing, which is much cheaper, higher-quality, and frustration-free than our previous platform. We’re still in development for our planned giving resources.

Family Updates

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  • We had Amariah’s baby dedication on the 24th at our local church. We’re beyond thrilled that the Lord chose us to be her parents! She’s already being used by Him to impact lives, and we look forward to raising her into a woman who continues to do so.
  • We’re coming to Tennessee again in mid-October! With four girls, including a baby. So yeah. Please pray for that.

What’s Next?

  • Projects: My Argentina trip is in the travel arrangements phase, so pray that all goes smoothly. I’m excited to go share the gospel in a new place and capture testimonies and stories of what Jesus is doing in churches and communities there!
  • More Celebrations: Our Fort Worth celebration is coming up this week. In late October, some of our staff will road trip out to Lubbock and Amarillo for our final celebration dinners for the year.
  • Internship: IC is launching a new internship program soon, which will give students an opportunity to get international missions experience — and hopefully convince them to stay long-term 🙂

God continues to do more than I can ask or imagine through my ministry at IC, and it’s all enabled by my team of financial and prayer partners. Thank you so much for your prayers! The Lord answers, and none of this is possible without that support.

Now is a great time to consider your giving commitments for 2018 or year-end gifts, and I’d be honored to put your generosity to work for Kingdom growth here in Texas and around the globe. Go here to invest financially or feel free to ask any questions you have.

If you haven’t followed Jesus on a mission trip with IC, check out the 2018 schedule and apply to go! It will be an experience you’ll never forget — and you’ll probably get hooked.

Let us know how we can be praying for you. Blessings!

Ministry Update – Call Me Kwaku

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3,953 souls were saved this month throughout Tema, Ghana! Some of the 13 participating churches doubled in size during the week, and all are busy with their follow-up strategies to make disciples who make more disciples. Healthy things don’t just grow; they multiply.

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Highlights

  • I was given a Ghanaian name, Kwaku, by my namesake. Confused? The Ashanti peoples find significance in the day of the week on which they’re born and give traditional Twi names accordingly. I was born on Wednesday, so one of the missionaries on my team also born on Wednesday named me Kwaku. Her nickname is Akua, the female variant of the same.

 

  • Our church teams were fantastic. The international participants from the U.S., Côte d’Ivoire, and other parts of Ghana divided up among the area churches and formed smaller groups of 4-5 to cover various communities throughout the city. I mainly worked with First Baptist Church Tema, but also went out with other churches to film. The missionaries and many of the church members were well-versed (pun intended) in the Word, Spirit-filled, tenderhearted, and very discerning. After seeing how easy it really is to share the gospel, the less-experienced believers quickly overcame their fears and became strong evangelists after a little on-the-job coaching.

 

  • The people we met at their homes and workplaces were hospitable and receptive to hear the gospel. We encountered a lot of people who grew up in church, but had never understood the gospel (a worldwide problem). We also talked with quite a few Muslims, most of whom readily accepted Christ (also a global phenomenon, whether or not you regularly hear of it).

 

  • I loved seeing newly-saved sons and daughters of the King showing up at special church services every night and being welcomed by their brothers and sisters.

 

  • The congregations’ zeal for follow-up inspired me. Members were calling new converts during lunch breaks, pastors were assigning deacons to care for those in their neighborhoods, and leaders were planning new home groups.

 

  • I led a German guy to Christ — in Africa! While walking in Accra on our “day off”, I met a young German man named Florian who was looking for the entrance to the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, which was where our group was headed. He accepted my invitation to join us and we quickly bonded after discovering we’re from the same region in Germany (I mean come on, guys — the Lord brought his dude right to me). He got more than he bargained for, in the best way. Discussing our reasons for being in Ghana easily paved the way for me to share my testimony, and he decided to follow Jesus. Right there on the spot, Florian prayed to receive salvation. He left me his information for follow-up, and it so happens that I know a great church in his hometown.


Family Ministry

  • Conduit Mission Summit: Immediately following the Ghana project, Kim and I had the privilege of attending the annual Conduit Mission Summit. It was a blessing to fellowship and worship with other dear goers and senders from our home church in Franklin, Tennessee. We shared stories, prayers, and hugs as we learned together and encouraged each other. It’s vital for us to spend time with other like-minded weirdos who have traded the lures of the world for the joys and trials of following Jesus in the Great Commission.

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  • Family Time: The girls and I stayed with my parents while in the Nashville area, and we got to hang out with extended family and visit good friends in Knoxville.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re inspired to join me in the Great Commission in a deeper way, both across the ocean and across the street. Don’t underestimate what the Holy Spirit can do when you share your story. You’re just the messenger, anyway; He does the work.

We appreciate (and depend upon) your prayer. Let us know how we can be praying for you. Blessings!

Ministry Update – Shootin’ Stuff (besides videos)

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What’s New?
Here are some other highlights from what I’ve been working on.

  • Board Meeting: Our HQ staff enjoyed hosting our board meeting this month. It was a busy week for me, as I handled the media for the meeting (slides, videos, videoconferencing, etc.) and presented recent advancements with our social media and website tools to the group. I was energized by the board members’ passion for reaching the lost and making strategic moves to recruit younger believers to join us on mission. Their affirmation of my work over the past year made me feel highly-valued, which was especially encouraging.
  • Web Dev: This month, I rolled out new changes to our site to make the giving process easier for donors supporting project participants and staff members. I also created our 2018 project pages. Go check out the schedule and decide where you’re going next year!
  • Fundraising: Good news – we’re back to full funding for the rest of 2017! That means I can spend less time out of the office developing new partnerships and more time taking I.C.’s storytelling and online engagement to the next level. It also helps our family reach out to neighbors and continue building relationships in our community. We’re still working on meeting our budget with monthly partners for long-term sustainability, so If you know someone who might be interested in joining our Great Commission work, we’d love an introduction.

What’s Next?

  • Trip: I leave for a project in Ghana next week! The coordinator, Lon, reports that the local churches are well-prepared and have been covering friends and family in prayer for months in preparation for sharing the gospel during the project. Pray for a big harvest, great footage, good weather, and smooth travel. I can’t wait to share stories and images when I get back!
  • Missions Conference: We’ll be in Nashville next month for the Conduit missions conference. We’re excited to see some of you there.

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Family Ministry

  • Adoption: Our homestudy is approved, everything seems to be in order, and now we’re just waiting for the baby! If you want to pitch in to support the adoption, go buy a T-shirt or give online.

Thanks for reading! We appreciate (and depend upon) your prayers. Let us know how we can be praying for you. Blessings!

Ministry Update – Ghana Go?

April was a tough month for our family. My Granddaddy, Ben Bryant Elliott, graduated to heaven after 88 years on this world. He was a family man, Korean War vet, deputy sheriff, electrician, amateur inventor, and inspiration to many. We’ll miss him and I can’t wait to see him on the other side. Life for our large, close-knit extended family will be notably different without its patriarch. We are most deeply grieved for Nana, who is dealing with the loss of her husband of 67 years in the midst of developing dementia.

On a bittersweet note, Granddaddy’s homegoing meant we got to spend Passover and Resurrection Sunday in Tennessee with friends, family, and ministry partners. We treasured seeing many of you as we celebrated the reason that death has lost its sting. Jesus is so sweet to us.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
– 1 Thessalonians 4:13

Rev. Joe Fields shared how his life, family, and church have been changed by his partnership with International Commission at our Granbury Celebration.

 


What’s New?
Here are some other highlights from what I’ve been working on.

  • Granbury: Our second celebration of the season was filled with moving worship, powerful testimonies, gospel preaching, and fantastic food. The Lord blessed IC with about $86,000 in gifts to mobilize national-to-national projects among indigenous churches.
  • Nerdy stuff: I’ve been working on boosting our social media engagement and tweaking the website for SEO optimization to reach more people with stories and missions opportunities.
  • Fundraising: Our ministry partner team is growing! One new team member will cover airfare for some of my projects, which is a huge blessing to me and to IC. We’re still looking for two or three key sustaining partners with $500 or $1,000 monthly gifts to get us back to budget and allow us to do more local ministry. If you know someone who might be interested in joining our Great Commission work, we’d appreciate an introduction.

What’s Next?

  • Celebrations: Our North Carolina celebration dinner will be held in Clemmons on May 12.
  • Trip: My next international project will be in Tema, Ghana in July. Come join me! I know it’s short notice, but there’s still time to raise funds to go if you follow the Lord in faith — and I’ll do what I can to help. Let me know if you’re interested brave enough!

 

STORYTIME! (Here’s another one from Cuba)

Your life cannot be good enough to earn grace nor too bad for you to receive it. The gospel of Jesus is better than we think.
The lady on the right thought she had a great relationship with the Lord because she was religious; she has prayed and read the Bible for many years. But she still wasn’t sure of her salvation, and she hoped she had done enough to go to heaven. After she heard and believed the clear, simple gospel of Jesus and his grace, she prayed to accept His forgiveness and put her trust in Christ alone.
The man on the right expressed that he believed the gospel message, but wasn’t ready to become a Christian because he was not raised religious and had a tobacco and alcohol habit he knew that he needed to give up. He felt unworthy. With the Holy Spirit working on his heart, he heard how Christ died for us while we were still sinners and how He comes to us as we are to transform us into new creations through His love. He said he still wasn’t ready. But just before the visit concluded, his posture visibly changed and he surrendered to Jesus.
Praise the Lord for this new brother and sister in Christ in Cuba!
Jesus is relentless in His pursuit of His people, and He uses ordinary believers to do it. Come join the harvest!

 

 

Thanks again for all of your support and prayers. We depend on your prayers as we serve the Lord here and abroad. Please let us know how we can bless and pray for you.