Many Are The Plans

It’s always so interesting to see how God’s plan prevail over the many plans that we make.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Monday was our first day going out to a village to train and practice. Our plan was to train in the morning and practice in the afternoon. On the way to the village, our GPS took us on various roads that no longer existed so that we ended up being about an hour late to our training.  Once we arrived, we discovered we weren’t the only ones to be late so we were able to simply move everything back, or so we thought. The training went very well and we decided to go out and practice before lunch. After an hour of practice, we returned to three grumpy babies (Adaline and our coordinators two kids) and Adaline seemed to have a fever. So we decided it would be better to return to the guest house instead of spending the afternoon in the village. The babies were able to take naps but Adaline didn’t recover the way we had hoped and seemed to be burning up. We decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and take her to see a doctor to make sure nothing major was going on. Through many prayers of people like you, we were able to find a great doctor that was only a few blocks down the road. We went and got her checked out and she was only fighting a regular cold! Praise the Lord. The doctor gave us some meds to control the fever and help her runny nose and cough. It was certainly not our plan, but it was awesome to see the way God worked in hearts to trust him in a new way.

Tuesday’s plan was changed immediately to help Adaline recover from her fever and allow all the kids a little more time to sleep. Ryan and Osvi went out to a village for training and gospeling while Abigail and Ale stayed at the guest house to do additional training. Both Abigail and Ale were encouraged by their time of training and simply being able to do life together. Once Ryan and Osvi made it to the village they engaged in some simple conversation that lasted over an hour until everyone arrived to take part in the training. The training went incredibly well and the immediate practice even led to a number of follow up discipleship meetings! While those that had just been trained went out to practice (obey), Ryan and Osvi did an additional overview training component with Pastor Edwin, which was received very very well. The training took about an hour and then they had another hour of follow-up discussion. Ryan and Osvi were both extremely encouraged by this meeting. After returning to the guest house, all four of us sat down for dinner and to talk through the logistics for the journey to Cochabamba in July. This led to additional conversations about future plans and future work in Bolivia.

Even though the babies haven’t been at 100% and our time hasn’t been exactly what we planned, it’s been so cool to watch God’s plans unfold before us and get to be a part of what He is doing in this city and country.

One Step At A Time

Here is a quick summary of our travel to Bolivia and time so far.

We left our home on Thursday morning at 5am and arrived to Dulles airport around 6:15 for our 9am flight. When we checked in the agent at the counter said, “you need a hotel reservation or an invitation letter stamped by the Bolivian immigration to get a visa.” Since both Abigail and Adaline needed visas they wouldn’t give us our boarding passes until this happened. I had paperwork for a Bolivian visa that we have used for the last five years but apparently that wasn’t enough. After a number of phone calls and about an hour we ended up booking a hotel for one night on Travelocity just so they would give us our boarding passes. We flew to Panama and then arrived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia at around 10:30pm (with a pretty grumpy baby). Through the prayers of God’s people, God brought our friend and brother, Roger (who works in the airport), through immigration to meet us and help us through the process. I’m honestly not sure we would have been given visas without Roger’s help. But through His grace we were all admitted into the country! We had the awesome privilege to stay the night in Santa Cruz with our dear friends (and family in Christ) Roger and Ximena. Then we left Friday afternoon to head to Cochabamba.

We were able to get a little much needed rest Friday evening to begin the work God had for us on Saturday. We are working to train and encourage a church in Cochabamba that Ryan visited in May when he and Osvi were here. They did some very introductory training with the short time they had and our hope was to see how things have been going since then. We were very encouraged to find out that the church had a weekend event/outreach/celebration planned with the theme of “one world, one mission, one step at a time.” How cool is that!? We joined them on Saturday afternoon to go out in their community and share the gospel. It was awesome to see that they had clearly been practicing and even have a few ongoing discipleship meetings. Then we were able to be a part of their celebration event that evening. We were also able to join them on Sunday for a worship service and a time of fellowship/encouragement. Ryan got the great privilege to share from God’s word Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be filled with many trainings, time to practice in communities, planning and vision casting. Specifically there will be training/gospeling in three different areas in the mornings. Pleas join us in praying that this time is very fruitful but also helpful in equipping this church to be multipliers!

Here are some specific prayer needs:

  • Training in the different areas to be received and then practiced
  • Future plans to be discussed and prayed through
  • Sleep for the babies (we have Adaline but also our coordinator’s 2 kids)
  • Hydration for Adaline (they don’t have whole milk anywhere so she’s drinking slightly different milk and doesn’t always want to drink as much as she needs)
  • Coughs to go away for Ryan and Adaline (it’s been delightfully breezy but that has caused a lot of dust to be in the air which has lead to scratchy throats and coughs)

The Ultimate Mission

First, let me apologize for my lack of updating during the Cape Verde journey. My hope had been to update you at least a few more times but unfortunately, with the events of the journey coupled with the lack of good wifi, it became impossible to get a blog post out.

Let me give you a quick overview of the week since there were a few different components to this journey that lead into our activities. We were there to work with our ministry partner (Global Year) by training and encouraging their students while also working with a local church to train and mobilize their people into the harvest fields of their country.

The local church we worked with is already developing a “church planting” DNA so they had a total of 4 church plants with buildings and somewhere around 18 house churches. We were able to join many of these churches in their villages and neighborhoods throughout the week to provide training and then immediately put it into practice in the community. Most of the training was done in small groups by our NLGM team and then they took those small groups into the community to practice and provide any additional coaching that was needed. Many of our team did such an awesome job of training that they only had to model once or twice before the local believers completely took over sharing and discipling.

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Some of our team training a local pastor

Some of the churches also have a preschool program offered during the week called “Proyecto Pepe” that is aimed at loving on the local kids in their neighborhoods. Our team helped a few mornings with this program to free up the teachers (and a GY student and NLGM team member) to go and visit the families of these kids. This was an awesome time of sharing the gospel of Jesus with these families and we were able to see many give their lives to Jesus and begin being discipled through this ministry.

Global Year is a “gap year” ministry that takes students 18-25 and places them in a country for 9 months to learn a new culture and language and truly seek God for the direction of their life. We worked with the 9 GY students living in Cape Verde this year to help them be multiplying disciple makers while they are there but also when they return home. We got the great privilege to do some “formal” training but also simply do life and ministry with these students. During the formal training, the students soaked up as much as they could and then immediately went out into their neighborhood to share. Throughout the rest of the week, many of our NLGM team joined individual students or small groups as they met with those that they are personally discipling. These are AWESOME students that are going to be greatly used in fulfilling the Great Commission.

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Our team and Global Year students

 

In many ways it was an awesome journey, but I want to take a step back and address something that came up in a big way. You may have wondered what I meant when I used the ominous term “events of the journey” earlier. Without getting into the details, we had a team member get very sick a few hours BEFORE we landed in Cape Verde. They stayed in the hotel, were moved to the hospital, and eventually ended up being flown out for additional medical care. That meant two of our team (our ill teammate and our co-leader) “missed” the week in Cape Verde. This brings up what I want to address. When you are a part of short-term journeys you have to actively combat the notion that the mission is only accomplished on the journey. This is very far from the truth. In Acts 1:8 Jesus calls his disciples to be a witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. That wasn’t a list of exclusive places, but rather an all-inclusive invitation to be on mission every day and everywhere. My prayer for every team that journeys to another country, especially this team, is that they would learn what it means to truly live on mission. Jesus doesn’t desire our obedience for one week in a foreign land. He desires us. All of who we are.

Let’s not miss the ultimate mission. Jesus wants to use us to change the world!

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” -Matthew 22:26-40

Also, please be praying for my family next week. Abigail, Adaline, and I will be traveling to Bolivia on November 9-17 to set up future work in a new city and do leader training.

This is the lighthouse on the island. Someone on our team took this picture and is salty that I’m using it on everything. They shall remain nameless.

We Are Just Here To Serve

Jesus modeled a very difficult character trait for me to understand. He was a servant. Even though he was and is the Lord of lords and King of kings he served the disciples that followed him. The cool thing about this is that the more you follow him and get to know him, the more you understand this important trait.

As missionaries on the field, people often look to our team as the “experts.” It has been beautiful to watch them individually and collectively choose humility and service over pride. It also has been the coolest experience for me to get to serve with these disciple makers.

Yesterday we were able to visit a house church plant in a local village and encourage them (pictured below). We shared some training with them and immediately went with them to go share with their friends and family that were far from God. It was AWESOME to see these believers passion for their village and join them in seeing many choose to start following Jesus!

Someone asked one of our team members about our goals for the week and their response has been churning in my heart the last few days. They simply said, “we’re just here to serve.” I’m humbled to walk with this team over this week.

If I could describe how I feel in my heart it would be what John the Baptist said in Matthew 3, “One is coming whose sandals I’m not even worthy to carry.” How gracious the Lord is to love and use people like us.

Prayer needs:

We have some sickness on our team and I have spent the better part of the night helping with that situation so I’ve only had about 6 hours of sleep since we arrived on the island Friday night. Please pray that I can heavily rely on Jesus to sustain me and lead our leaders in decision making. Also, please pray without ceasing for the health of our team and focus for those that are healthy.

On Our Way…

Our next team is officially on our way. I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop in Dulles airport awaiting our first leg to Casablanca. This team of 11 will spend 7 days in Praia, Cape (Cabo) Verde training students and churches while walking alongside them in local villages to see the gospel advanced!

I’m going to try to keep updates on our blog so that you can be praying for with us. I’ll do as much as our WiFi will allow! Please be praying for our travels through Casablanca, Lisbon and on to Praia. Please also be praying for me. I miss my girls so much already!

Thanks for reading this and keeping up with what God is doing in and through our family.

Wrapping Up Cochabamba 

Our last two days in Cochabamba have been absolutely awesome. We have been two very tired dudes at a few moments but the Lord has had such a purpose throughout our time here. 

Monday morning we were able to get out and see a potential guest house for bringing teams to Cochabamba. It was a little more challenging than we thought since we were just given a street name and told “it’s next to the church.” The challenge was that there were 4 churches within a few blocks and the house wasn’t on the street we thought it was!! Luckily we did end up finding it. 

Monday evening we had a scheduled training from 6-9 with all the churches we had shared with on Sunday. We challenged everyone to be on “gringo” time (meaning on time and not an hour late). As we were driving to training our car broke down! So guess who ended up being 45 minutes late….the gringo! Despite our tardiness, God’s purpose prevailed. We had 30 believers in the training and they soaked up everything we shared for almost 3 hours. After we finished they made it very clear that they could not wait until we would bring a team to start obeying. What an answer to prayer!!

Today we went and visited a potential site that was way, way, way out of the city. It was awesome to see the beauty of the mountains and countryside outside of the city. We had a great lunch with our potential partner and shared our hearts for the city and country. The day ended with a quick training of a few potential translators and dinner at Menchos. 

Osvi and I are both really excited about the potential in Cochabamba and we can’t wait I see what God has in store. As I write this we are sitting in the airport waiting for our flight to La Paz. This starts the journey home for me. Pray for both of us as we miss our wives and babies very much and are super excited to return to them!

Here are some things to be praying for:

  • It’s been very cold in La Paz so pray there are no travel issues getting in or out
  • Pray for my journey home from La Paz to be smooth and quick
  • Pray that God leads the NLGM team to the ministry we need to be a part of in Cochabamba 
  • Pray that these churches do implement what they’ve been trained on and make many disciples and multiply churches

Cochabamba Update

These days in Cochabamba have already been, and will continue to be, insanely fun due to the brother-like relationship I have with our national coordinator (Osvi). It’s especially fun since Osvi’s dad owns a restaurant called “Mencho’s Sexy Hotdogs” at which we will eat and hang out every night. Don’t ask about the sexy part…that’s what I’ve been told. 

One of the interesting things that happens to me when I’m out of the country is a complete loss of time awareness. The last few days have been a blur and I have to think very hard to remember what happened when. Despite this, Jesus has been showing me over and over how serious He is about accomplishing His mission. 

Last night (at Menchos) we met up with a potential ministry partner named Edwin. We got to hear his vision for planting and multiplying churches and how we could assist him in accomplishing the ultimate vision of the Great Commission. What an awesome God conversation! 

Thus far he has planted 4 churches in communities around the city and is looking for ways to equip these churches to plant more churches. Over the last two days Osvi and I have “preached” (mini-trained) at 4 different church meetings to start the equipping process. The churches represented in these meetings were so interested and engaged in our message that they weren’t satisfied with only an hour! We now have a three hour training scheduled for tomorrow evening so that we can share more and help these churches practice/implement these principles and tools. We are very excited about these churches and their leaders. 


Edwin is all the way to the left in this picture

Tomorrow will be another busy day with meetings at a guest house, with potential translators, and with other partners. 

Please be in prayer for a few things:

  • Meetings to be kept
  • Rest for us. It was a busy missionary journey and it’s been a looong two days in Cochabamba 
  • Discernment for myself and Osvi
  • Clear communication in trainings
  • People being able to attend trainings
  • Disciples to be made and the Kingdom to advance! 

For His Name’s Sake

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:1-3‬ ‬‬

If there is anything the Lord has been teaching me this week, it’s how ferocious He is about His glory. This past missionary we got to see many people choose to follow Jesus, take steps of obedience, and be disciples by making disciples. However, I think that the best part for me has been watching God work in the lives of our team and drawing them closer to Himself.

The Lord had provided so many things at just the right moment this week and constantly reminded me that it is all for His glory. In the world that we live in it becomes so easy to see everything through the lens of our little lives. Even being on mission with God. When things go right or wrong we think that is was due to us or done for us. The reality however is that all of things God is doing around us is ultimately so that we would give Him glory and point others to do the same. 

Here is a quick update on where I’m at…

I ended up staying an extra day in La Paz to be with both of our country coordinators. I’m praising the Lord for the conversations we got to have heart to heart between the 3 of us. I’m also praying that He will receive much glory for the results of those conversations. 

I’m headed out to Cochabamba this morning with one of our coordinators (Osvi) to meet up with potential partners and have a few trainings over the next four days. We currently have four sites to visit, two houses to see, two translator/disciple trainings and a number of up in the air appointments. 

Here are a few things to be praying for…

  • Wisdom for Osvi and I to communicate vision and see with whom and where God wants us to work
  • Continued heart to heart discussions between Osvi and myself
  • Make the most of the time (potential partners make it to meetings and trainings)
  • Good communication to home (how I miss my girls!)

F Is For Fuego

The first few days of this journey have been an absolute answer to our prayers! We have seen that God truly has gone before and set up divine appointments. There are four teams in three different areas. Each team has had multiple conversations with people whose hearts were clearly ready to receive the gospel because of God’s grace. As normally happens, almost all of the plans we had prior to arrival have changed. But it is all for God’s glory and He has shown us that He is absolutely in control!

“Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails”

For the first time for me, I am able to “float” between the teams and spend time with each of them. What a blessing this is from the Lord to be able to shepherd people from both our North American and South American team! I’ve already had many opportunities to speak encouragement and truth into disciples. The most beneficial conversation I had yesterday was with a translator struggling with the apathy she finds in many people of her church. We talked about our role as ambassadors for Jesus and disciple-makers and how she can overcome apathy through leading by example and leaning heavily on Jesus. The Lord has really been pushing me to push our team to “not miss knowing Jesus in the midst of making Him known.” I have been greatly encouraged to see many of our team spending their down time in God’s Word and seeking to really KNOW Jesus. How good God is to be enabling our team “to both desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13) I’m so excited to hear what God has already done and to see what He has in the next few days.

 

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This is the village of Collana that 2 of our teams are working in!

Here are some things you can be praying for me:

 

  • Vision from the Lord (to see the needs of our team and address them according to His Word)
  • Grace and Mercy
  • Dependence on God’s Word and Spirit
  • Good internet at the house to be able to speak with my wife and daughter (I greatly miss them!)
  • Stamina to give myself fully to encourage, equip and empower our team as well as engage in the harvest as my heart so desires to do

You may be wondering why the title of this update is “F Is For Fuego.” We have a younger team this week (9 out of 12 are 25 or younger) so we have had our share of laughter. There are a number of jokes circulating but F is for fuego came up this morning at breakfast. In Bolivia, hot water is on the left and cold on the right. Hot is marked with a “C” for caliente (which means hot) and cold is marked with an “F” for frio (which means cold). One of our teammates was confused as to why the shower was cold because she thought F was for “fuego” (which means fire). We had a pretty good laugh together. I am truly grateful that this team can laugh together as we share the journey of following Jesus.

Abigail and I are truly truly grateful for your prayers. I genuinely thank the Lord daily for you. We could not be doing this without each of you.

What Do You Do During The Week? – A Missionary Perspective

A question often asked of full-time ministry workers is “what happens during the week?” or “what happens when you’re not traveling?” Even though a ministry job isn’t a clean 9-5 (which few jobs are), it’s still filled with the same thing that most jobs are filled with…work.

We are constantly trying to get better at equipping/helping to multiply disciples throughout the nations. Our days are filled with communicating, planning, and executing strategies to fulfill the vision as well as all the administration of running an organization. We also have the added bonus of raising our full-time ministry support which is a full-time role in itself. With all of these things, our days tend to fill up pretty quickly…sound familiar? Chances are that you could rattle off a list of work activities that keep you more than busy. The question for you and I isn’t, “what do you do?” but should rather be, “why are you doing it?” or better, “who are you doing it for?

It’s easy to become so busy with work and life that following Jesus becomes an “if I get around to it” thing. Hebrews 2:1 says, “…pay even more attention to what we have heard (the gospel), so that we will not drift away.” This is a great reminder to not become tired and neglect following Jesus. So how do we not become exhausted in a world that’s so busy?

The answer (found in the next chapters of Hebrews) is to rest in Jesus.

Hebrews 3:12-13 “Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. But encourage each other daily…”

Hebrews 4:2 “For we also have received the good news just as they did; but the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith.

Hebrews 4:10-12 “For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. 11Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.

The answer for entering into Jesus’ rest that Hebrews gives is to encourage each other daily (how often do I encourage believers to follow Jesus with everything?), unite with those in the faith (am I willing to look past small differences to unite around taking the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth?), and let God’s Word judge my thoughts and ideas (how often do I let God’s Word speak into my life?).

Here is a quick story that drives this home for me.

A few days ago, Abigail and I went to visit a previous neighbor that was recently diagnosed with bone cancer. It had been a busy day and I was already a little worn out. Our hope was that we could encourage him as he faces some difficult circumstances. We were met with a man who was resting in Jesus even in the midst of some pretty gloomy odds. He talked at length about how he was grateful for us, our ministry, and our visit. He spoke of different churches and ministries he has worked with and what the Lord had done through his life. He prayed for us. Finally, he shared of a small victory with the neighbor that used to live between our two houses when we were neighbors. She had been pretty openly against me sharing Jesus with her and I had backed down. He, on the other hand, was always compelled by God’s Word and Spirit to share truth with her over many years. Instead of me encouraging him, this sweet brother encouraged and pushed me to remember to rest in Jesus and abide in HIM.

It’s not as much what we do as who we do it for.

If you’d like to get united with some believers to advance the name of Jesus locally, nationally or internationally, click here.