During a project in Mongolia last month, our partner Rob Johnson said:
“God tells us that we are to be His witnesses. Around the world I have found people who follow Jesus that don’t speak the same language but have the same heart and value the same beliefs that I do. I strongly urge you to get out of your comfort zone on go on a mission trip. You will never be the same. International Commission has trips to every area of the world. After a little training on witnessing and the culture, you work alongside church members to share the Gospel. Inside a ger, sharing the love of God with someone who has few possessions and little hope of a better tomorrow as he or she prays to accept Jesus, you see the change in their face. Salvation brings not only a heavenly eternity but an earthly abundant life. In those divine moments when God moves in someone’s life, I have such joy that exceeds my best day at Disneyland.”
“Yesterday 10 new believers in Jesus began a new life with God. This 93 year old woman prayed after her daughter and her grandson. Three generations in one family in one hour changed their eternal destinies and their earthly goals. God does not wish any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
That’s what we’re all about at IC. If you’re ready to join a church-based evangelism project overseas where you’ll work with local believers to visit their neighbors and share the reason for the hope that you have in Christ, go sign up! If you’re ready to go sooner than later, we need more American participants for the Nicaragua project in September:
- Web development: Project participants and donors have found participation with our ministry much easier with the new online forms I created. In the coming weeks, we plan to take that up a notch by deploying our mobile-responsive redesign, project pages, personal profiles, and peer-to-peer fundraising tools. This will make it simpler than ever for people to register for trips and cover their costs.
- I’ve been enjoying a steady stream of reports, stories, and images from projects around the world and have been sharing many of them on social media. A lot of them are too sensitive to share with the public, but they’re awesome. If you’d like to hear a cool story of what God is doing to save and heal people in “hard-to-reach” places, give me a call!
- This month, I’ll begin capturing interviews and testimonies from our staff here and on the field. We’ll use some of these online, but we’re also developing a new presentation to take to churches and universities.
- Our social media channels have dramatically increased our reach to an average of 300 engagements each day. I’m praying that the Lord will use those connections to mobilize people on mission with us. Follow and share what the Lord is doing through I.C. and our partners on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Office geekery:
- Our office staff starts every weekday with a morning devotional and prayer time. In July, I rigged up videoconferencing gear so our “away team” staff can join our devo once a week. I know I say it all the time, but it’s amazing how the technology of our time can be used for Great Commission work. We’ve got to make the most of it.
- I won’t bore you with the details, but we’ve got several data management projects going on at HQ. Pray for us as we learn new systems, migrate data, and work out all the kinks that go along with such.
- Trip: Thanks for praying for guidance as I decide where to go this fall. I’m planning on joining the Ukraine team in October. I’d love for you to join me!
- At Ella’s request, we braved the heat on Saturday to clean up the park in our neighborhood. She hates seeing litter and wanted to make the space nicer for everyone. We love her heart.
- We’ve continued to meet more of our neighbors and are hoping to develop meaningful relationships with them. We think many of them are lost, so please pray for us to know how to love them well. Sidenote: make fun of me all you want, but Pokémon Go made several of those connections happen. The silliest things can be used for the sake of the gospel.
Our home has already been well-blessed by visits from Tennessee friends. We enjoyed hosting Vince Wallace as he stopped through on his photography workshop tour to benefit The Orphan Portrait Project. We also loved having the Dahlbergs stay with us, despite the bout of illness which tried to steal our fun.
- Last Sunday, I attended a volunteer orientation for a local anti-trafficking group. I’m hoping my years of experience with End Slavery Tennessee can be put to use in our new community.
- Thanks for praying about a church home for us. We’re getting involved with RockPointe Church in nearby Flower Mound.
Thanks as always for your support, prayers, and friendship. Please let us know how we can serve or pray for you!
… shouted 20-year-old Lota as she ran to her neighbors after hearing the gospel from C.B. on an International Commission project in Bangladesh. Many more did come and some accepted salvation. C.B. reports that 83 people believed that week.
It’s an amazing blessing that hearing and telling stories like that is part of my new routine. God is working through churches all over the world in ways reminiscent of the Book of Acts, and thanks to our ministry partners, I’m giving Him glory and helping to mobilize more workers for that harvest.
- Web development: I.C.’s new site design will deploy in July. I’m excited about transforming it from an informational “brochure” into more of a toolset. The online project participant application I implemented last week is already being used! Pray that this will help more young adults and their churches to get involved.
- I’m developing systems for content curation in cooperation with our staff, including a new Dropbox setup for gathering pictures and video from projects.
- I’m planning production for testimonial and documentary-style videos to share stories from churches and staff.
- Our social media channels are up and running. Follow and share what the Lord is doing through I.C. and our partners on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Here’s one recent update:
Praise God for the salvations last month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo! He miraculously worked out peace during the week of the project among the warring tribes in the area. Fifty-two former cult members were among those saved.
- Training: This week, I’m joining other leadership staff at a Support Raising Solutions Bootcamp seminar.
- Trip: I’m prayerfully considering where my first international trip this year will be. I’ll be evangelizing along with the team and capturing stories. Please look at the list and join me in praying about where to go. And pray about going yourself!
International Commission is my full-time ministry assignment, but you know my family is on mission in our local community, too. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
- We closed on the new house and moved in! Thanks again for praying for our home-buying journey. We had to navigate some turbulence with negotiation, underwriting, and closing, but it all worked out just fine and we’re very glad that season of homelessness is over.
- We’ve started meeting our neighbors, all of whom have been very nice so far. Pray that we’ll quickly build meaningful relationships.
- Ella & Evie attended VBS at a church down the street and they loved it. Ella also learned about creative arts in worship at a skills camp at another church we’ve been visiting. Pray that we’ll soon discern which church to join.
- We harvested our first cucumbers and peppers from the existing garden in our backyard! We plan on planting more to eat from it as much as we can and to bless friends and neighbors with the extra. But we kill things. So pray that it continues to be fruitful.
- We all volunteered at a World Refugee Day event in Dallas to welcome and celebrate newly naturalized citizens and their families. We met people from all over the world, including a very inspiring young student from Nepal. I got the opportunity to share a bit of my testimony with him and how God used Nepal to call me to full-time ministry with I.C. Here’s a bit of his story:
Anwesh didn’t speak English and had never used a computer when he left Nepal a few years ago. Now he’s a programmer and app developer who speaks three languages, codes in four, and is headed to college for computer engineering. His dream is to “be even better” than his hero Steve Jobs and to improve cell infrastructure in Nepal.
The gifts, prayers, encouragement, and support from our ministry partners have already been abundantly fruitful in my family’s life and around the world. If you have any prayer needs, please do send them along. Blessings to you and your family!
We have lots of big news for this update. Are you ready to have your mind blown? Well, I can’t promise that. But are you ready to hear some really cool stuff? Okay, let’s go:
- WE’VE REACHED OUR FUNDING GOAL!!! With many, many thanks to our team, I’m now officially on staff full-time with International Commission. I’m a for-real card-carrying missionary (or I will be when my business cards come in).
- I’m officially ordained, too. During an incredible Sunday at Conduit Church with our youth group leading worship, my family and I were encouraged, prayed for, and sent off for gospel ministry by our elders (Here’s a video). We love all of you at Conduit so much!
- Directly following that service, I got to perform my second baptism — this time with my nephew, Hunter. That Sunday will be hard to beat. 🙂
- With much-appreciated help from friends, family, and neighbors, we loaded our belongings from storage into a huge Penske truck and then back into storage here in Lewisville. Thanks, Scheuchzers, Evatts, Layne, Hetheringtons, Kortland, and especially Mom & Dad! My parents outdid themselves by driving that truck all the way here and then unloading almost all of it so we could meet with a realtor the first day in town (which so happened to be our tenth anniversary). That was serendipitous timing, because by the end of that day…
- WE FOUND A HOUSE!
We’ve felt the Lord’s favor all over this. We’re amazed that we found a great house close to
work (and behind Aldi) on our first day and had our offer accepted by the weekend in a competitive market. It’s a nice affirmation that we are where we’re supposed to be. Y’all: it has a Texas birdbath in the backyard. And did I mention it’s right behind an Aldi that was built in November, about the same time I was called to ministry with IC? Hmm.
- Web development: I’m corresponding with a local firm called Advice Interactive who’s donating a site rebuild, as well as with Blackbaud about donor and participant tools which will integrate with the systems we use for record-keeping, communication, and mobilization.
- Events: I’m traveling with our leadership team to share testimonies, stories, and opportunities at celebration dinners.
- Social: I’m building and using social media profiles for the organization to share stories and updates about what the Lord is doing through our ministry around the world. Now that I’ve laid most of the groundwork, I’m developing a workflow for curating content from our staff and teams. You can follow and share on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Here’s one such update: We’re thanking the Lord for 7,419 reported salvations and 593 baptisms during the national-to-national project in Tanzania last month!
- Closing: We’ll close on the new house either June 9 or June 13 (it most likely will be extended because of a delay in the appraisal). We still have to finalize negotiations with the seller after the appraisal comes in, so please do pray for a smooth closing. We’re enjoying family togetherness in our current one-room extended stay hotel arrangement, but we are very ready to move into the house.
- Church search: We’ve visited a few wonderful churches and are still looking for our new home fellowship. Please pray for that journey, too.
I’m spectacularly blessed to see the fruition of so many prayers and the huge steps we’ve taken over the past few months, and IC is really excited to have me here full-time. They remind me every day. Suffice it to say I feel very welcome and appreciated.
If you have any new prayer requests for us, please send them along.
We’ve spent the better part of April on the road and scattered around the country as we’ve been visiting family, wrapping up partnership development, and getting things rolling in Texas. Here are some highlights:
- Travel: Kim and the girls spent most of April at her parents’ new house in Springfield, Missouri (yes, she drove with all three kids). I stopped through for a couple of days in the middle of the month on my way to Texas and they finally joined me here on the 23rd. I figured she deserves a trophy for solo parenting all that time, so I had one made at a local engraving shop here in Lewisville (God bless all of you full-time single parents. You are special people.) Until we find a house, we’re staying in a secret missionary safehouse about 30 miles from the International Commission office. OK, it’s really just an apartment above a small office building owned by a ministry partner of the organization, but you’d never know it was there.
- Old friends: I’ve had the joy of reconnecting with old friends from various stages of life here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex (which is a thing they say here) and telling them about the ministry. I’ve caught up with friends from college, from Nashville, and from camp staffs I served with over a decade ago (Fuge family forever!)
- New friends: I’ve also been networking to find new friends and ministry partners, of course. Introverts would cringe at the number of strangers I’ve talked to and met with this month. But I consider it a privilege that meeting new people is a part of the mission, and God has brought such opportunities along in unique ways. I’ve found new contacts through participating in networking events, attending social media seminars, going to Bible studies, and joining meetup groups for homeless ministry. That one was my favorite; I got a jump start on serving the new city I’ll call home, which I think is a great way to fall in love with it and its people. It’s also a great way to find others who care about mission work both at home and abroad. We’ve also been visiting churches in the area as a family.
- Finishing/Starting: We’ve only got about $500 /month left to go to our goal! As we’re wrapping up that initial fundraising, I’ve started working on the website redesign, social media strategy, and various other projects between appointments. I’ve loved being able to join the staff for the morning devotional and prayer time. Do you know that we pray for International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, and fellow International Commission missionaries by name every day? I’ve also enjoyed overhearing the different languages spoken at the office. I’ve been trying to learn Spanish and I’m hoping that hearing it every day will help me pick it up more easily.
What’s Next? (Some of this was in the previous update, but hasn’t happened yet)
We’ll travel back to Tennessee this weekend (with a stop in Little Rock to see friends who hosted us during Evie’s adoption) for
- Ordination/Baptism: Conduit Church will ordain me during the 10:30 service on May 1st, during which I’ll also get to baptize my nephew, Hunter!
- Closing: Next week, we’ll get the rest of our stuff out of the house and close on the sale.
- Moving stuff: The following week (of the 9th), we’ll load it all from storage into a truck and head back to Texas to unload from said truck to new storage where it’ll live until we find a new place.
- See You Laters: Meanwhile, of course, we’ll see as many of you as we can for bittersweet “see you laters”.
Thank you so very much for your prayers, support, and partnership! We appreciate you greatly and have been praying for you. If you have any new prayer requests, please send them along
We’ve had an eventful March filled with meetings for partner development, a garage sale, and celebrations of life, new life, and freedom. Here are some highlights:
- Meetings: As I continue to meet with friends and former co-workers, I’ve also been networking at events for local Christian businesspeople and CEOs, e.g. Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce, Christian Business Leaders Roundtable, and the Faith in Film Breakfast Club. These groups are great places to find people who see their businesses as Kingdom assets and ministry opportunities. It’s been encouraging to meet with some of them, and several have been willing to help me by partnering or referring me to others.
- Garage Sale: Thanks to dear friends and partners Nathan and Charity Long for hosting our garage sale this month. They stored a lot of our stuff for a few weeks and helped out tremendously as we turned it into cash. We’re sincerely entertaining the idea of further simplifying and downsizing when we purchase our next home in Texas.
- Bibles: I had the privilege of delivering 33 Spanish Bibles to our partners Dave and Whitney for their mission trip to Honduras in March. The Bibles were donated by LifeWay and another partner, David Elliott (my dad!).
- Holy Week: on Palm Sunday, we attended a family prayer service with my parents at their church and it was a sweet time. Our oldest daughter Ella was really into the event and has been asking a lot of questions about Jesus and salvation over the past several weeks. The Lord has been pursuing her little heart, and that Monday she accepted His gift of salvation! We’re absolutely thrilled — and what an amazing time for that to happen! On Tuesday, I helped to lead a Messianic Passover seder which has been an annual tradition of our family for several years. On Thursday, we had a little Purim party at home with our princesses wherein we celebrated our God who uses ordinary people for His big purposes. The next day, we headed to Fall Creek Falls for a weekend with extended family celebrating life; four birthdays, Springtime, Ella’s rebirth, and Christ’s resurrection!
- Baptism: It was an amazing blessing to “bathtize” my firstborn on Easter weekend with family around at a beautiful place like Fall Creek Falls State Park. Both Ella Jane and I felt more alive after the experience — that water was cold! In this age of digital media, testimonies can be shared more publicly than ever before. So I present to you, with great joy, my daughter’s proclamation of faith and baptism:
- House Sale: We’re very pleased to announce that our house is under contract and we were very happy with the final offer! Thanks to the Lord for providing for us so well. Closing is set for May 6.
- Travel: In the meantime, Kim and the girls are staying with her parents in Missouri for a few weeks in April. After an International Commission celebration dinner in Cookeville next week, I’ll head to Texas to touch base with the IC office and finish up ministry partner development (we’ve got about $1,200 /month to go to meet our budget goal).
- Ordination: When we’re back in town for closing, I’ll be ordained for ministry at Conduit Church (slated for May 1st). If you’re in Middle Tennessee, that’ll be the week to say “see you later.”
As always, please pray for the Lord to direct me to the folks he’s leading to become ministry partners. And if you know someone else who can give and would like to hear about church-based partnership evangelism projects, please let me know. Especially if they’re in the DFW area.
Thanks again to all our ministry partners and prayer warriors. We’re truly on this ride together and we’re glad to have you in our corner. My family prays for you daily.
L’chaim (to life)!
With apologies to my fellow Millennials for perpetuating the stereotype, I live with my parents again! But we moved into the generously-prepared upper level of their house on purpose; it’s going to be so much easier to show our house without shuffling in and out with three kids while trying to make it look like we don’t live there (that was getting exhausting). So now, we actually don’t live there.
That’s right: this weekend we moved our stuff into storage and said goodbye to the first house we’ve ever owned. And that’s really weird. We have lots of memories in that place, like bringing two new daughters home, building relationships with neighbors, living with housemates, hosting community group meetings, discussing the Bible with Mormons, celebrating holidays and birthdays, enjoying family visits, and working through life issues with dear friends. It’s strange to imagine another family living in the house built for ours, but we pray it’ll be just as much of a blessing to them as it was to us.
Having made the next big step in our journey, the only remaining hurdle to starting my ministry at International Commission is the final $1,640 in monthly commitments from new ministry partners. Thanks again to all the financial and prayer partners who are on board so far. Your investments are vital in making this thing happen, and we’re almost there! As I continue meeting and sharing stories with amazing people, please keep praying that the Lord connects me with those whom He’s leading to join the team.
After hearing a mission report this Sunday from friends who recently got to share the gospel with unreached people in north Africa, I’m chomping at the bit to get started in my mission! God is at work in miraculous ways all around the world, y’all, and we don’t have to miss out on it. If I haven’t met with you yet, I’d love to tell you how you can be involved. And as always, if you know someone else who’d like to hear about church-based partnership evangelism projects, please let me know.
Woah! Livin’ on a prayer (and our emergency savings and a nice tax refund; answers to prayers in their own right)!
I’m glad to say we’ve had a big and busy couple of weeks and are feeling very encouraged. Not only did we welcome partners who have pushed us over the halfway mark to our monthly goal, but we also put our house on the market.
Thanks to friends who have helped us do that! I don’t know if you’ve ever packed and staged a house occupied by three young kids, but let me clue you in: it’s hard. But like they say: “if you work real hard and apply yourself, you’ll be homeless in no time” — oh, nobody says that? Well, it’s a good thing the Kingdom is topsy-turvy. And that we have family to stay with. God’s provision and favor continually amazes us!
Besides the house, the only thing holding us back from heading to Texas to start full-time ministry with International Commission is about $1,940 per month in support. If I haven’t gotten the chance to meet with you yet and you’d like to hear more about what I’ll be doing as a missionary and media director with IC, please let me know. If you know of church, small group, club, business owner, family, or individual who I should speak to, please send them my way, too. We’re mainly aiming for partners who can contribute monthly gifts and keep in touch with us, but special gifts are also welcome. Thanks for all your prayers and support!