Staying On Mission

As a family, we were quarantined before it was cool. Not because of COVID-19, but because of a stomach virus that made its way through our house for OVER A WEEK! Now that we are (hopefully) over the bug we are forced to deal with the reality of the coronavirus.

Although it seems that life may be standing still, we are confident that God’s mission is NOT and there are lots of ways that we can live as a family on mission in this season.

Here are some things that we are doing as a family to stay on mission:

1. PRAY

We often hear people say something like, “I can’t do anything about it, but I’ll at least pray for it.” Somehow we have the tendency to view prayer as the lowest level of service we can offer, when in reality, scripture teaches us time and time again that prayer is one of the most powerful tools that a believer has been given the ability to wield!

During this season, devote intentional time to pray as a family. Pray for the health of people around you. Pray for a speedy recovery of this situation. Pray for the BILLIONS of people searching for hope. Pray for the Church of Jesus Christ to step out and point people to the only real hope found in the gospel.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. Elijah was a human being as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.

Jame 5:16-18

2. WORSHIP

Worship is much more than singing a song, but rather giving great worth to a God that is infinitely worthy! Take time to read stories from God’s Word, pull up a song on YouTube, or join in on one of the many different online gatherings that are available.

We tuned into Rend Collective’s “Socially Distant Worship Club” livestream on Facebook the other day and it was so good for our souls!

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.

Acts 2:42

3. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

Due to the nature of social distancing and/or quarantine many people around us are going to have needs. We aren’t built for complete isolation and now is a great time to practice loving your neighbor.

Take a walk around the block with some note cards to write your name and number. Be bold to share your info, offer to lend a hand, and give the reason for the hope that you have. The Bible says a lot about what happens when believers simply love their neighbors.

I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13:34-35

4. BE PATIENT

Long periods of time in the same situation, with the same people, can often lead to annoyance and irritation. Whether it’s with the situation outside your home or the one right in front of you, now is a good time to remember to be patient and trust the Lord for the sake of the mission!

“Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Eph. 4:1-3

West Virginia Avenue

The last few months have moved FAST so we wanted to share an update on what God has been up to and we hope that you will be as excited as we are.

If you haven’t been following our family here’s a bit of the back story. We have been prayer walking downtown Martinsburg for years asking God for an opening to see the gospel transform lives. At the same time, God has led our family into the foster care system and given us a heart to see the gospel proclaimed in this very broken system.

Throughout the year we realized that our family was quickly outgrowing our little townhome and that we couldn’t take anymore foster placements until we relocate to a home with more bedrooms. This also got us thinking that a home in downtown Martinsburg could be very beneficial for the work NLGM is trying to do.

This led us to look into a number of different houses. Unfortunately most of them were either too expensive or needed too much work. After actively looking for about 6 months, we decided that it would probably be better to push pause and wait until after the new year due to Ryan’s travel schedule and the coming baby (due in January).

Enter West Virginia Avenue

Less than a week after Ryan returned from Bolivia, a house popped up for sale in our email on a Wednesday morning. It was 6 bedrooms, had room for NLGM ministry space, at the top of our budget, and on West Virginia Avenue. Long story short, God made it happen. We saw the house 3 days later. Tried to make an offer but needed to sell our house first. Put our house on the market in 4 days. It sold within 36 hours. They accepted our offer within another 36 hours. So within less than 2 weeks we went from pushing pause to having a contract on the perfect house!

The house will need a lot of love over the next few years, but it’s the perfect size and in the perfect place. When we first stopped and prayed for God to lead us to a house in downtown, we were LESS THAN ONE BLOCK from this house!! After praying, Ryan walked into the street to take a picture and you can literally see the house in the picture. It went on to be the picture we’ve used for prayer-walking promo.

We have received a lot of support up to this point from those around us and we are incredibly grateful for all that God is orchestrating. We are continuing to pray that this move will make a great impact for the Kingdom of God in downtown Martinsburg.

Meeting Physical and Spiritual Need

While Jesus was on Earth he made a point to address both physical and spiritual needs.

“Jesus was going all over Galilee,  teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every  disease and sickness among the people.”

Matthew 4:23

He dealt with the issues on the surface, but then also dealt with the issues of the heart. As we have been involved with the foster care system it has been easy to see the deep physical issues surrounding kids and families effected. There is an incredible amount of trauma and loss regardless of outcome. We feel a special pull to help meet those physical needs when we can, while also pointing people to the greater spiritual need that exists in all of us. Our prayer is that by having more physical room in our home we will be able to better meet both physical and spiritual needs of the foster kids and families we encounter.

We Need Your Help

Although we have received great support, we still need help to make this dream a successful reality. Here are some ways you can join us on this journey!

  • Help us move! We close on November 8th so we need LOTS of help on November 7th to load up the trucks and on November 8th to unload the trucks.
  • Pray! We need LOTS and LOTS of prayer for all aspects of this move. Especially for the kids to adjust well and for all of the various projects to go smoothly.
  • Partner! There is an obvious financial commitment to buying a larger house that needs work. If you’d like to partner with us financially, you can give here.

Mission House

One of my favorite parts of taking teams on “short term” missionary journeys is getting to experience staying at the “mission house” with them. It’s a place where they find rest and encouragement, and then are sent back out to continue on THE mission, to go make disciples. The atmosphere is something that you must experience to understand. When you are at the mission house every aspect of life is filtered through the mission first.

That’s our dream for Martinsburg.

We want a house where people can come to be trained and then sent out for ministry. A place where every aspect of life is filtered through the one real mission.

As we’ve shared in our last few blog posts, Why We Are Serious and Or One Like It, we are praying for and actively seeking to find a house to make this happen. We believe that our involvement as foster parents and as missionaries to the nations fit perfectly into our desire to live every day on mission and help others to do the same.

What We’ve Been Up To

We have been looking for a house that can serve 3 different purposes.

Room for more foster kids. We recognize how THE mission, to go make disciples, perfectly fits into our role as foster parents. For this reason, we see the need to find more space to have more foster kids. There are certain house and family size regulations for bringing foster kids into your home. In our current townhome, we are pretty much maxed out.

Room for more disciples to be trained. As a part of our ministry with New Life Global Ministries, we are working to train up local believers to take the gospel deeper into our community and to the nations. We are praying for a house that has space where people can gather to be trained and sent out.

Room for more plans to be prepared. NLGM is a completely mobile mission organization. Most of our planning is done around our kitchen tables. While that’s not all bad, we are praying that God will give us a room where we can set up camp as an ongoing office space.

Up to this point, we’ve looked at basically every house in town we could and have discussed a number of financing/fundraising options. We’ve followed a lot of different rabbit trails and here’s where we’ve landed.

Only God can do this.

There is currently one house on the market that seems to be perfect (396 W Race Street). But there is basically no way that our family can afford a house that meets all the things we are looking to accomplish.

So to make it happen we need one of two things:

  1. Someone else has to buy the house for us.
  2. Raise enough money to buy the house outright.

We don’t believe that either of these things are out of the question for God’s people.

Is it uncomfortable? Yes. It’s uncomfortable for you to give “your” money for things that don’t directly benefit you. It’s uncomfortable for us to ask you to give and then to leave our quite comfortable home. Honestly, I’ve just spent a year refinishing part of our basement into a home office that I love and don’t really want to leave.

It really all comes down to one question, “Is it worth it?” Which I think can actually be better stated, “Is HE worth it?

We all can see that things need to change. In the way we care for foster kids. In the way we take the gospel to our community and to the nations. We are working to take steps in the right direction to make a larger gospel impact in our community and to the ends of the earth.

HE (Jesus) is worth it.

I can’t express how overwhelmed we’ve been with the encouragement that we’ve received on this journey. We’ve had people offer support and inquire about how to do so. We have researched many different options for receiving donations in an effort to make the most of God’s resources. We have gotten permission from our organization to receive donations through our staff support account.

While this does have some restrictions, it allows us to be sure that 100% of donations will go to support us as we care for foster kids and make disciples of the nations. It also allows for gifts to be tax-deductible.

How To Give

We have set up a fundraiser on Facebook that you can access here. The great thing about Facebook fundraising is that there are zero fees for non-profits. If you aren’t on Facebook you can give here. If you don’t want to give online, click here to send me an email and I’ll send you where you can mail your gift.

What happens if we don’t get the house?

This is part of the reason we decided to collect donations through NLGM. We believe that if not this house, there will be another. And since the gifts will already be in the account, we will have access when the time comes. Also, since NLGM is a legal non-profit (501 c 3) mission organization you can be sure that no matter what, your gifts will be used to support us as we care for foster kids and make disciples of the nations.

(Or One Like It)

Wow. It has been awesome to watch what God has already done in the last few days since we posted our last blog post, Why We Are Serious. We have received so many encouraging messages, offers to help, and even practical assistance. Thank you to everyone that is praying with us. Your prayers are being heard and answered.

A fellow foster parent, fellow believer in Jesus, and real estate agent, was able to get us a look at that massive King Street house and it did not disappoint! It was beautiful and filled with potential. In the last few days we have talked to home inspectors, previous potential buyers, city officials, and contractors about many different aspects of this house. It looks like this house would need a few hundred thousand dollars over and above the price of the house before we could put foster kids in it. There is no doubt that this would be a BIG project, but we know that we serve a much BIGGER God.

We have prayed and prayed and asked many others to pray with us and there is one line from our last post that keeps coming up…

“We are truly asking that God would provide this house (or one like it) through His people for His purposes and we have 100% faith that He can and will do it if He wants to.”

Or One Like It

There is no doubt that the King Street house is AMAZING and could potentially be a great place for foster/adoptive kids and disciple-making. But the vision and dream is bigger than just that house. And as we prayed, another house was brought to our attention.

In the downtown Martinsburg district, an 8 bedroom house on Race Street W is for sale. You can see the listing here. This house is awesome! We were able to see it after our visit at the King Street house. Here are some of the things it has going for it…

Less Issues

The Race Street house has been taken care of beautifully and it is in pretty good shape. It would need some repairs but most of the needed changes are just floor plan related. It doesn’t seem to have major foundation, electrical, or plumbing issues. It was built as a duplex so it has things like two small kitchens that wouldn’t make much sense for a single family home.

It’s Built for Kids

At one point this house was a girl’s boarding house. It has a TON of room inside and a nice porch/yard outside. Especially for being in the middle of town.

It’s PERFECT For Ministry

This house would be a perfect house to use for disciple-making and training. It has some LARGE wide open rooms on the main floor that would just be perfect.

It’s On Race Street

Yes, we are counting that as a positive. A huge part of our dream is to be light in the midst of darkness and make an impact on those around us. Where does light shine brightest? That’s right, in the dark.

While we walked through the house the other day it felt real. Like God is already laying the foundation for this great work and there are unspeakable things on the horizon. This house could be everything that we’ve dreamed. A place for foster/adoptive children to find refuge and disciples to be made.

So here are the things we need prayer/support for:

We still can’t afford this house. Although the Race Street house will take a lot less, it’s still A LOT more than we have. We would probably need money for a down payment (or a significant price reduction) as well as money/service donations for central air and other floor plan alterations. We need lots of prayer that God would work out all the details to fund this. Feel free to reach out to us if you want to be a part of this or have any ideas.

An entity for handling donations. If God continues to give us a green light to the point of purchasing the house, we will need someone to help us with donations. For the sake of God’s glory we want an entity (like a church) to help us provide oversight and accountability for donations. There are services that could do it but there would be a lot of fees, which would mean lost money, and potential tax issues. We would rather God’s People take care of God’s Business.

Wisdom. We don’t pretend to have all the answers. We simply want to step out in faith as God leads.

Courage. This will no doubt be a tough road. There are SO many unknowns because we simply cannot do this on our own.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

There is still nothing special about us. All we are is willing for God to use us! We simply desire to make a difference.

Why We Are Serious

I want to share a little of what God is doing in our hearts recently. You may or may not have seen a post that I put on Facebook the other day asking for someone to “buy me a house.” I made the post public so you can see it here. At first glance it’s a bit ridiculous, but let me provide some back story and tell you why we are completely serious.

As Abigail and I have been prayer walking the streets of Martinsburg the last few weeks, we have been driving home thinking, “there’s something that we miss about living in the city limits.” We have such a desire to see Martinsburg transformed by the power of the gospel through multiplying disciples and churches. And we long to be right in the middle of it.

We also have found ourselves with a major heart for the foster care system. We often think to ourselves that we would love to have more foster kids but you run out of room quickly with small town-home bedrooms.

So as we walked the streets praying for God to work in the hearts of people, we also started quietly asking that God would provide us a place to make a large impact in town.

Abigail sent me the listing for that massive house the other day and just said, “I wish.” I posted it on Facebook half as a joke and half as a “fleece” (Judges 6) to see what would come from it. We are truly asking that God would provide this house (or one like it) through His people for His purposes and we have 100% faith that He can and will do it if He wants to.

What would you do with 10 bedrooms?

We would fill them with a handful of foster/adoptive children. A LOT of kids come into the foster system in sibling groups. Sometimes LARGE sibling groups. It’s often hard to take sibling groups because people think, “where am I going to put these kids?” Our answer? In a 10 bedroom house. That’s where. We are not afraid of “more than we can handle” because that is exactly where God shows up!

We would fill them with disciple-making. As I said earlier, Abigail and I have been prayer-walking the streets of Martinsburg as a part of our effort as missionaries with NLGM. We would use this house as a training hub for disciple-making throughout our community and to the ends of the earth!

Can you afford this house?

Nope. Not even close. But God has provided A LOT of things in our life that we couldn’t afford.

So how are you going to get this house?

God’s People. This house has been on and off the market for years. It very obviously has some serious issues. So who better to step out in faith and redeem a golden opportunity to make a major impact in our community than God’s people, for God’s purposes?? Whether it’s sitting in church bank accounts, adoption funds, or individual believer’s checking accounts, God has more than enough money to afford this house. We just need faith to act.

How are you going to fix all the issues?

God’s People. We have already had people offer to help fix issues. When God’s people put their hands and talents to work, things happen quickly. See Acts chapters 2-4.

Here is the bottom line to why we are serious. Jesus is serious.

God’s will is very clearly that all would come to faith in Jesus and repentance. His mission is that everyone would hear the life changing truth of the gospel and have an opportunity to repent. Jesus went to great lengths for that mission and He calls us to sacrificial faith for the sake of that mission.

This life is temporary and we want to make the very most of the time that we have been given. We are ready to step out in faith and sign up for WAY more than we can handle. But we can’t do it alone. One of God’s greatest gifts to us was God’s People. Will you join us in faith?

Here are the things we need prayerfully/tangibly right now:

  • Money for renovations (or money commitment)
  • Money for a down payment/mortgage
  • Skilled laborers to help/donate their help
  • Someone who can talk the listing agent into showing us the house without the things above
  • Churches/believers to join us on this journey

What makes you special?

Nothing. There’s a huge part of me that wants to just dream this and say nothing. We have no desire to for us to get any recognition. We simply have a great desire that God be glorified GREATLY. He is the reason that we have life. He is the reason we are missionaries. He is the reason we are foster parents. He is the reason. Period. All we are is willing.

“And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised. From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective.”

2 Corinthians 5:15-16

Family On Mission

We can hardly explain the joy that we receive when we get to share God’s mission to the nations TOGETHER! We came down as a family (Ryan, Abigail, and Adaline) to the Dominican Republic to work with another missionary family (The Santos) to provide additional training for them and some influential leaders as well as make plans for our future work in this city.

So far, we have been able to share additional training at different times with the Santos family and get to learn more about their hearts for the Lord. We are excited to see what ministry is ahead of them as well as what the Lord allows us to do together.

We have also been able to train a new (and key) pastor in a community that desperately needs the gospel. We took the pastor and some local workers into the community to model prayerwalking and gospeling. The community is simply referred to as “Villa” and we are praying that those we have trained will multiply disciples in the neighborhood.

Today we were able to spend time casting vision and planning with two very influential pastors. We are very encouraged by their excitement and desire to multiply disciples and churches. We were able to make some tentative plans about future trainings and missionary journeys (keep an eye on our website) and with the Lord’s leading and provision, we are trusting that a movement of God through local disciples/churches in Santiago (the city we are in) is on the horizon!

The plan for our remaining time in the DR is to spend some time encouraging those we worked with in December on our missionary journey and provide the next level training for the missionary family we are partnering with. We are heading back to the airport to start our trip home on Monday afternoon. So please join us in praying that we can make the most of the time we have left! All for God’s Glory!

Please pray for:

  • Continued health for our remaining days here
  • Opportunities to train and cast vision
  • Receptivity for those we train, to grasp it and then put it into action
  • Safe travels home on Monday afternoon

Fire That Refines

All this week I have had the great joy (and great responsibility) of driving our team around Honduras. As I was driving I spent more time than normal taking in our surroundings. Most of which was acres and acres of sugar cane fields.

As we passed through all of the fields I kept asking God to bring spiritual growth in myself, my family, and our team.

It is also the season to harvest the sugar cane. The process to harvest involves setting the fields on fire to burn away the excess and then coming along after to gather what is left.

What a powerful spiritual principle we have watched around us all week!

“You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith — more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭CSB‬‬

The Lord has reminded me this week of the trials that are ahead for those that choose to follow Jesus. However, we should not be afraid but REJOICE that this fire purifies and produces faith that brings glory to God!

Yesterday was my birthday and I can’t help but reflect on the past year. As I do so, I am so grateful for the opportunities that our family has had to experience trials. Although we didn’t always choose to rejoice, I can still see how HE is refining us and our faith.

Even now, as we await bloodwork for our sweet daughter we choose to rejoice and trust the Lord.

It is clear that Jesus invites all of us to join Him in His mission to reconcile the world to Himself. Through trials and the refining of our faith we will see the Great Commission advanced!