Why A 15 Second Instagram Video Made Me Cry

I would repeat tonight in a heartbeat. I had the privilege of speaking on social media in the ministry context and I seriously had so much fun. I’ve been sharing the last few days how I’ve been in and out of Josiah Venture’s “National Orientation” where 19 men and women from 8 countries are officially joining the JV family. They will finish up tomorrow and I was able to be part of their last night together.

As I spoke tonight on what God did with our family this past year, and how He used Facebook and Instagram to connect us to many individuals who are now on our support team, I was overcome with emotion. Even as I prepared my presentation earlier today, I began to cry and think about how many people are sacrificing and generously supporting the work we’re doing in Czech Republic. I’m truly and deeply thankful for each and every one of them. What’s absolutely incredible to me is that in a round about way, our supporters are supporting these nationals who heard me speak tonight. Hopefully I was able to impart to these nationals some help and encouragement and that is definitely in thanks to our supporters who allow me and my family to be here!

National Orientation (2/19/15)

Above is a photo I took while I was speaking and I told them all it would be on the blog tonight. You can pray for all of them as they now turn their efforts towards raising support. This is a significant challenge for some of them. Many of their church cultures and countries are not accustomed to supporting missionaries and could very well be confused by their efforts. My hope and prayer is that these men and women will be part of a movement in their countries that sees the church rise and up send out workers in to the harvest! Being with them tonight reminded me that the work is not always easy, and I need to continue to pray that God would shower His grace on them.

Below is a video I posted to Instagram back in June when we finally reached 100% of our support. I showed this video tonight and that’s when I was overcome with emotion. Praise God for His faithfulness and for the many people (maybe even you!) who support our work here. We are truly thankful.


Friends and Stickers

The day started early with one of Titus’ friends coming over for the first half of the day. Beni showed up a little before 8:00am and he and Titus had a ton of fun playing together. Linda, Beni’s grandma, has been taking care of Beni and his brother Caleb for the past ten days or so while their parents have been in Israel. Today Linda had to go to the Foreign Police because she’s been have issues with her visa, so Bethany asked if she could help watch the boys and hopefully help Linda focus on that. Since Caleb had school today, Beni was the only one who came, but of course Titus thought this was a wonderful idea and even when I got home this afternoon he was still talking about how much fun he and Beni had playing outside and being together.

Stickers (10/30/14)

A lot of what I do for Josiah Venture (JV) is really fun, but one of my most recent projects is a little extra special. Right now JV has people across the United States on what we call the recruiting tour. Our staff goes around to a lot of different Christian colleges talking about Josiah Venture and recruiting students to come over for the summer and do an internship. My team was asked to help create materials that could be used while on the tour and one of our ideas were these 4×4″ stickers that could be passed out to students on campus (shown above). Along with the stickers is a card (shown far left) that has some additional information and ways they can connect with us further and apply. What I love about the stickers though is that they are just bits of Scripture that students can stick up in their dorm or wherever they want and hopefully be reminded about what God is doing over here and around the globe.

Bethany and I worked with college students for four years in our church before coming here and at first I really didn’t like. Quite honestly, I loved working with high schoolers because they seemed more open to change than I thought college students were. But after a while I realized that college students are at such a key part of their lives where they are going to make crucial decisions about friends, jobs, churches, missions, etc. that will effect them for a very long time. During that time they need a lot of help, training, discipleship, and mentoring. Obviously a sticker isn’t going to magically make someone want to do missions, but it’s about the conversation that happens when our staff hands that person a sticker and invites them to join us in the work going on over here. There are a tons of needs here, especially in the summer months, and I hope that these little pieces of Scripture and the conversations that go with them will be a helpful tool to bring more young people here to serve and be part of God’s movement in Central and Eastern Europe. You never know, maybe one of those big decisions college students are making will be coming here full time to tell others about the Greatest News there is.


Just Down the Street From the Gestapo

On our way to Poland yesterday, we stopped at a McDonald’s to grab lunch. The kids were asleep in the car, and attempting English in the drive thru is pretty much out of the question, so I went inside to order. The nice Polish woman who helped me spoke great English which was a blessing and as I went to pay I realized I didn’t have my debit card in my wallet. This was very strange because it’s pretty much my lifeline here, but I had to pay so I just used a different card. After getting back into the car I searched around and couldn’t find it. The last place I remember seeing it was the night before when I went to the grocery store for Bethany. Either I had left it there or put in my pants pocket that night. I guess this would have to wait until we get back from Poland.

Today I checked all my pants pockets and couldn’t find it so I went to Tesco where I remembered having it last. Since I can’t speak Czech, I used my phone (Google translate) to communicate with the ladies that I thought I had left my bank card there. Amazingly, and thankfully, they had it! I was told to go to “informace” (customer service) and showed them my passport and got it back! Praise God I didn’t lose it because getting a new sent here from the States would’ve been tough. And in the end I thought the whole experience was yet another language learning opportunity.

Walking the Town (10/11/14)

I took the kids out late this afternoon for a little walk to the park while Bethany started dinner. We live in a pretty historical area, so much so that they have little plaques along the square near our place explaining the different building and their significance. I’ve read a few of them, but today I found a new one over by the park that I hadn’t seen of the building in the above photo. Apparently it was built in the latter part of the 19th century and was an administration building then a secondary school. But in 1939 the Nazis occupied this area and (are you sitting down?) it became the headquarters for the Gestapo! A block from my apartment is where the Gestapo had their base of operations. Crazy! Wait… you don’t believe me? Here’s the plaque (written in Czech, Polish, and English):

Gestapo Building (10/11/14)

Tonight I attend a youth conference at our church where the main speaker was none other than Dave Patty, the president of Josiah Venture. He speaks very good Czech and I watched in awe as he preached from Romans 12:1-2 to a few hundred Czech teenagers. I did my best to listen for words that I knew, but genuinely had no clue what was going on. Had it not been for the person next to who spoke a little English, I wouldn’t even have known we were in Romans. From what I could tell though, Dave had the attention of the students and I’m sure they were blessed. I know I was encouraged, especially from the singing tonight when they did a familiar Phil Wickham song in English! Here’s a short clip of everyone singing “This is amazing grace:”


This is a room full of young people gathered for a Christian youth conference here in Czech. Such a joy to see this.

View on Instagram

Hearing that song sung by so many young people almost had me in tears. The spiritual climate in Czech is so dry that to see all of these people praising Jesus in a small town in Czech is kind of mind blowing. This is fresh to me because just tonight a friend forwarded me a link on Twitter about just how atheistic the Czech Republic is. It’s yet another reminder of why we’re here but how God continues to move among the youth.


When Missionaries Talk To Each Other

Before leaving the house today I saw a bunch of notifications on my phone, many of which were from Facebook. A lot of our friends had left a comment about our day yesterday. It was such a blessing to read them and even after I got to Josiah Venture, Bethany texted me saying, “Tons of encouragement and prayers on yesterday’s FB post. Our friends are nice.” Encouragement it was and we are so blessed to have many people following our lives online who are able to bring us before the Lord. If you are one them, thank you…really, thank you! We can’t tell you how much it meant to us.

Alongside those little posts of encouragement was another conversation that got me thinking. Just before writing the blog last night I had posted a little update about how we kill a lot mosquitos around here. The comments on that status update were hilarious and with the exception of one, they were all written by missionaries from around the globe. Six missionaries in five different countries were represented and everyone was talking about how they kill mosquitos where they live. This might sound funny, but it was encouraging. Silly? Sure. But seeing my friends and fellow missionaries talk and joke about killing mosquitos as a “nightly ritual” was almost comforting. It’s not really about the mosquitos as much as it is about shared experiences and just getting the time to hear from other missionaries. A bunch of missionaries from around the world were talking to each other. Even my friend, Daniel, texted me this photo today of his mosquito bite! At what point in history have we ever had this kind of connectedness?


Tonight I read the crazy and unreal week that our friends and teammates, the Cramers, had in Albania. You should read it, but the gist of the story is that their water heating system in their house completely exploded. By God’s grace, no one was hurt, but in Cory’s words to me over instant message, “it was a disaster.” After reading it, I don’t think there’s another word for it. And you know what it did? It put my week into perspective. Our family life this week has felt pretty strange and even tonight I do not feel well. But reading about our friends in a harder place, with a harder situation, who have the right perspective of God’s goodness, encouraged my soul and realigned my own perspective. It was like reading a missionary biography, only it didn’t take thirty years to publish. It happened this week and I can learn and grow as I listen to my friends deal with these new or common situation they’re in.

God has given us a wonderful gift in the kind of connectivity we have today. Hopefully it only leads us to pray for each other more and cause us to entreat the God of the universe for His mercy and grace in every day trials. To our missionary friends out there, thanks for talking with us. Thanks for sharing your stories, pains, joys, hurts, and happiness so we can learn and grow from each other. It’s nice to hear from you.

Oh, alright…in the spirit of being connected, here’s a few photos from today (captions below each):

Mosquito Talk (9/17/14)

We’re definitely not joking about the mosquitos. Bethany bought this thing today and I am excited!

Mosquito Talk (9/17/14)

Avery has figured out how to turn the light switches on and off with the fly swatter. Let’s just hope the mosquitos start landing on the light switches.

Mosquito Talk (9/17/14)

It was really sunny today so Bethany and the kids went for a walk and to the park. They stopped on the path to blow some dandelions.

Mosquito Talk (9/17/14)

Later in the day it got more overcast, but the sun was still shining through the clouds while Bethany was at the grocery store this evening. I love it when you can see the sun streaks.


The Highest of All Missionary Motives

John Stott on missionary motives:

If God desires every knee to bow to Jesus and every tongue to confess Him, so should we. We should be ‘jealous’ for the honor of His name—troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed, and all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honor and glory which are due to it.

The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God), but rather zeal—burning and passionate zeal—for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Only one imperialism is Christian, and that is concern for His Imperial Majesty Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his empire or kingdom. Before this supreme goal of the Christian mission, all unworthy motives wither and die.

(via Of First Importance)