Missions Fest Seattle 2014

October 17th, 2014

Last weekend, Sarah, Nickie, and I were so encouraged by all that happened in Seattle at the Missions Fest. The first day started out with the “Friday Field Trip.” This is an event to encourage young people to be missionary-minded. It was so excited to see the 640+ kids flooding into the church.

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20141010_115605_30135 Energy filled the air as the young people began finding the rooms for the workshops they wanted to attend – a hard decision, because there were almost fifty workshops, with topics such as “How to Use the Wordless Book,” “Use Illustrations to Share the Gospel,” “How to Share the Gospel with Your Atheist Friends” and so on. I wish every city in the US could have a conference like this!

20141010_124906_30154 Just as Paul went into the market place in Athens and shared with those who happened to be there (Acts 17) so we told the kids that when believers go out to parks or malls to share the gospel, the Lord arranges conversations! We shared several examples of this. We explained to them that they actually have many advantages in witnessing while they are young. For example, people are less intimidated by them. Additionally, people will see strong contrast between them and young people in the world. They can begin practicing talking with unbelievers about the gospel now while they’re young, and by the time they are older they will have a lot of experience.

Seattle is in great need for more laborers. We pray that the Lord works in the hearts of these kids and makes them into zealous voices for Him!

20141010_133406_30167 We were also asked to teach a session entitled “The Mall a Mission Field.” =) It was fun to hear their questions afterward: “How do I witness to a strong atheist?” “What do I say to a friend who just doesn’t think it’s important?”

20141010_155845_30172 After I shared with the kids how being a friend to the “unpopular” and “hurting” children gives us an opportunity to share Jesus with them, the girl on the left came up afterward and told me how she had done just that with a friend she knew, and it gave her an opportunity to share the gospel. We need to pray for more laborers to the harvest that take action as she did!

20141012_165911_30267 Heather (right) is the main one who coordinates the “Friday Field Trip.” I was encouraged and challenged by her zeal for serving God and her heart to share the gospel with everyone she comes into contact with from neighbors to the UPS man.

20141010_135529_30169 After the “Friday Field Trip,” the main conference began Friday evening. One of my favorite parts of the conference was getting to know the other exhibitors / speakers there. (Pictured above is the New Tribes Missions booth.)

For example, during lunch, I began talking with the Arabic couple at my table and they told me about the difficult persecution they experienced in central Asia before escaping their country. It was so awesome to hear how the Lord had worked in their lives and is still working in their people group. I realized that I was sitting with modern day heroes and I wished I would have had time to ask them many more questions!

There were actually many “modern-day heroes” at this conference – many men and women who had spent decades laboring on the mission field. There were also many who were interested in going on the mission field. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by people who are living with their focus on eternity!

The church was filled with believers from many different denominations and cultures, brought together with joy under the banner of missions. It was a very sweet atmosphere. The “WHY” of missions wasn’t the focus, because that was already a “given.” The focal point was more on the “where?” and “how?” of missions. I noticed how much joy I sensed among everyone, and I think that was because these people were focused on serving God and not on themselves.

20141011_165409_30218 In the afternoon on Saturday, Sarah and I were asked to be part of a session that discussed the importance of BOTH word + deed ministry. The first ten minutes of the session was a 10 minute video by Tim Keller. Then Sarah and I shared some testimonies on witnessing. The session concluded with a panel with two main speakers from the conference: Jeff Lilley and Paul Watson, who both lead urban missions here in the US. (Questions were texted in from the audience.)

I was challenged by Jeff and Paul’s perspective and answers. Jeff mentioned how when you start helping a person in need, you better be prepared because it is going to get messy. He mentioned how “it’s going to consume your day.” They referenced the story of the good Samaritan. It made me think “How many of us think we are a good Christian and would do what the good Samaritan did, when in reality we do exactly what the priest and Levite did and look the other way?” Sure, maybe the situations we encounter are a little less extreme, and every case certainly requires wisdom, but let’s pray that we don’t miss the opportunities God puts in our path!

20141012_165951_30268 We stayed in the home of Paul and Sandy Blauert, who started the Seattle Missions Fest nine years ago. While others retire and spend their time on themselves, Paul and Sandy instead give their time to organizing and running the largest free Missions Fest in the country. =) They were such a blessing and encouragement to us!!

“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful (Titus 3:14).”

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation…’ (Mark 16:15)”

A Message Demonstrated By My Grandma

October 7th, 2014

20141007_161836_30024 Grandma and us, 1991

Sometimes we are proportionately challenged in the way we look at ministry. I.e. Little looks big and big looks little. The things we consider “really big,” may not actually be as big as we imagine, and the things we think are “just little” are not little at all.

Recently I have been reminded how often serving God means being faithful in the little things. Over a lifetime, those things add up and impact countless people! This is something I have learned from my grandma. It was reinforced to me by those who have shared with us how she impacted their lives since she went to be with the Lord last month. My grandma was one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known, continuously thinking of others. She had a special heart for anyone handicapped, less popular, or overlooked. For example, Grandma would often have one child from our church over (maybe someone who didn’t get a lot of attention) and spend the afternoon doing a craft with that child. Grandma and Grandpa consistently gave people rides to church, had them for dinner, and developed special friendships with the “less-noticed” in the body of Christ.

There are no little things with God. Cooking and deliver meals, writing letters of encouragement, visiting people in the hospital, listening to a friend who is struggling, babysitting, cleaning your church building, being kind and patient with our family members, laboring in prayer … these are NOT little things! In fact, I think the “littler things” are often the “bigger things” with God—because it takes greater faith to persevere in them. It takes faith to know that God is using them—even though they may not seem to make much difference. It takes faith to be confident that these good works are worth the time and energy they take—even if just one person is helped by it. The growth of the kingdom of God here on earth happens little by little, as one sheep at a time is brought into His fold and nurtured.

Another reason to delight in behind-the-scenes acts of love is that there is generally no earthly applause for them. This makes it easier to work with pure motives: simply desiring to be noticed by the Lord. Let’s do more “little” things!

If we could only see how the Lord multiplies our work and uses even the smallest things we do for Him, we’d probably be much more diligent in them! But we don’t get that luxury. The heroes listed in Hebrews 11 didn’t get that luxury either. Instead they worked by FAITH—and that is what made them heroes! God likes faith. =)

In Heaven, the great ones may not be names we recognize, but men and women of God who were faithful in their little corner, serving quietly and faithfully without concern for human praise or recognition. People whose minds were occupied with something much nobler—their love for their Commander. That is what should drive us. And that is the work which pleases our Father most!

My grandma did things to help people all the time, not just to check off her “ministry check list for the day,” but because she really cared about them! She, together with my grandpa, was an example of Romans 12:9 – “sincere love.” Her love for the Lord caused her to love those He loved. The New Testament couldn’t be more clear that Lord wants His servants to be driven by love.

Stop and ask yourself: WHY am I doing what I am doing? Who am I hoping to be noticed by? Who am I doing it for? “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

“Does the place you’re called to labor seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it, and He’ll not forget His own.
Little is much when God is in it! Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it, if you go in Jesus’ name.”
– Kittie L Suffield

The White Hot Chocolate Drama

October 4th, 2014

20141003_205506_30014 Last night was the annual “Chocolate Walk” and our store (Noah’s Archive) opened up from 8pm- 10:30pm along with many other stores downtown and served chocolate. We decided to serve “spiced white hot chocolate” this year because it would be easy.

20141003_204704_30008 We had a table set by the door to serve customers as they came in.

The problem was that I didn’t start warming the milk in the crock pots soon enough. People began coming and one crock pot was lukewarm and the other was cold. =( I began warming up individual mugs at a time as customers began to trickle it, but I knew that was NOT going to work for the whole evening!

I began to think. How in the world could I get those crock pots to heat up faster? Is there any other way I could heat this?

I prayed. Customers would be coming for the next 2 hours, and we really needed to have something to serve them! Though I knew the Lord can answer any prayer, I couldn’t really imagine how He would answer this one! [smile]

20141003_211301_30018 I began to pour milk into any possible heating device I could imagine. Lol.

Then Nickie came back and realized I needed a little help!

20141003_210827_30016 She agreed with me that heating up white hot chocolate in individual cups and bowls in the microwave all night long was not an ideal plan. And those coffee pot warming bases were not exactly doing the trick!

20141003_205341_30009 After giving the situation a little thought, Nickie had the brilliant idea of taking the whole crock pot OUT of it’s heating base and warming it in the microwave. It worked perfectly, and we had hot white chocolate to serve customers the whole night long. Praise the Lord!

Missions Fest Seattle, October 10-11

October 2nd, 2014

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Next week Sarah and I will be speaking at the Seattle Missions Fest. If you live in the area and would like to come, I would encourage you to do so. It is going to be a very exciting event! See missionsfestseattle.org for details.

This year the theme is bringing the gospel to the city as the Lord continues to bring “the ends of the earth” to us! To quote the conference program (Dr. Jan D Hettinga), “Going to the far ends of the earth is still vital, but going across the street has become nearly as difficult and equally essential…”

We would greatly appreciate your prayers. Please pray that the Lord would powerfully raise up laborers unto the harvest!

“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers…” Romans 15:30

My Grandma’s Memorial Service

September 30th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Here is one of my favorite pictures of my grandma

Ecclesiastes 7:2 “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.”

A week and a half ago, at my Grandma’s memorial service, this verse struck me in a way it never had before.

When Mr. Glock closed the service and referred to this verse in his prayer, I thought that’s so true. It’s so much better to go to a funeral than to a party. In the past hour, as I had been sitting there on the front row, I had been reminded deeply of the realities of life through all that had just been shared.

Parties are often filled with emptiness, but funerals are rich with lessons and reminders. First, they remind us of the reality that each one of us will also die (unless Jesus comes back first). It is at funerals when we ask ourselves questions such as What difference will my life make in the battle for Christ? How many lives will I touch? How deeply? How much will I have prayed?

We only have one time around – one chance. We need a lot of reminders about how short life is. So it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting!

And, of course, Christian funerals are the best, because though they are tear-filled, they are basically a big worship service. We rejoice in the hope that we have in Jesus – the One who has conquered death and replaced it’s sting with hope!

Even though many of you didn’t know my Grandma, I still think you would be edified by listening to her memorial service.

Here is an outline of what is shared:

Stephen’s introduction
2:30 George Farber (message)
18:00 Stephen introducing sharing time
19:20 Matt Coventon (friend from church)
21:00 Andy Parker (friend from church)
26:00 My mom
30:00 My aunt Roxanne
32:30 Carla Neto (friend from international student outreach)
34:20 Sarah and myself
41:00 My uncle Larry
46:00 Dave Keele (friend from church)
50:00 My Grandpa
57:00 Mr. Glock Closing Prayer

Field Trip to Noah’s Archive

September 26th, 2014

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This morning we had a sweet group of homeschoolers come in to Noah’s Archive on a Field Trip. They are studying Noah’s Ark this week.

They had some cute things to ask and say after my dad’s little presentation:

“Did Noah use animals to build the ark?”
“Why did they use gopher wood?”
“Maybe they used gophers [to build the ark] because it was [made out of] gopher wood…”
“Maybe there isn’t gopher wood anymore because they used it all up to build the ark!”
“Could the dinosaurs break through the wood of the ark?”

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Of course, the group also tackled some bigger questions such as, “Where did all the water come from?”, “Where did the water go?”, “What about the Ice Age after the flood?”, “How did all the animals fit on the ark?”, and “How do we know there were dinosaurs on the ark?”

It’s exciting that God has given us good answers to all of these questions.

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Jesus is Not Calling Us to a Sprint

September 19th, 2014

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Recently I was struck by Hebrews 10:36 which says, “You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”

Jesus is not calling us to run a short sprint — He’s calling us to a life-long marathon. He doesn’t promise immediate compensation or an easy path. But He does give us advance instruction about how to finish strong: “look not at what is seen but at what is unseen.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) i.e. Run by faith.

Life is not always going to make sense right now. And it’s okay — we just keep running. It is not always going to be fun or comfortable. It’s okay; we keep running. We may not be understood or approved of by onlookers. It’s okay. Our path may not go the direction we hoped. IT’S OKAY! Why is it okay? Because our treasure isn’t here anyway. Our Treasure is at the finish line.

If one is tempted to “slow down,” “give up,” or “yield to despair” because of a sudden rocky path or undesirable turn of events, maybe that’s a sign they have lost some interest in their true Treasure at the finish line, and put too much affection on things on earth.

May we run, looking unto Jesus, the finisher of our faith. Let’s guard our first love.

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

(Picture taken during vacation in Colorado several years ago.)

Sharing the Gospel at the University of Iowa

September 15th, 2014

20140914_174329_29882 Yesterday a team of 10 friends and I went to the University of Iowa to share the gospel with students. Afterward we gathered and shared our stories over pizza.

I think we keep learning over and over that nothing compares to the joy and fulfillment of doing what Jesus has told us to do — going into all the world to share the gospel and make disciples. I thought you’d be encourage to hear a bit of what we saw the Lord do yesterday!

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Here Nolia is sharing the exciting story of how a lady she and Maree talked to (named Ann) trusted Christ to save her! Apparently Ann went to church and had a lot of Bible knowledge, but the simple gospel message itself had never clicked with her until yesterday. We are praising the Lord for this divine appointment! Nolia laughed as she explained to us how Ann’s husband drove around the block several times, waiting to pick her up, but Ann kept saying, “well, he can wait,” since she was anxious to hear the rest of what Nolia and Maree had to say.

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Jon and Eric talked for over an hour with this man and lady sitting on a bench. They were full of questions about why God allowed so many things to go wrong in their lives. The lady was in tears. It sounds like the Lord really used Jon and Eric to provide some good answers and caring encouragement. Jon shared about the rich man and Lazerus and how we are not promised an easy life. He explained that our hope is not in this life but in the next.

Amanda and I talked with a girl, Morgan, who had left her Christian background and now has many very different views. Amanda shared her testimony with Morgan, and that led us into the gospel.

“I don’t know you very well,” I told Morgan, “but I do know that many have a wrong view of Christianity and they think it’s about rules and working to be good enough to get to Heaven when in reality that’s not what the Bible says at all!”

Morgan seemed intrigued by this and asked some good questions. We had a good talk about the righteousness that God GIVES us as a gift, as Romans 3 describes. Please pray for her.

Radio Interview
On a different note, as we’ve been praying for the Lord to raise up laborers to the harvest and for opportunities to encourage lives in this direction, it’s always exciting to see the Lord provide. One of those provisions came in the form of a recent e-mail I received, asking if I would be willing to be interviewed regarding Will Our Generation Speak? on VCY America, on the CrossTalk radio show. That interview happened this afternoon, and if you’d like to hear it, it is archived here.

Sight-Seeing in London

September 12th, 2014

With just one day to tour in London, we decided to squeeze in as much as we could!

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It was pretty neat to walk up the stairs out of the underground subway (the “tube”) and see Big Ben towering above us! The next thing I noticed was Mirren witnessing to a guy handing out brochures for a tour company. As she pulled out a gospel booklet to “trade” with him for his tour booklet, he asked her, “What is it about?”
“Well, it’s about what is true, and what is the meaning of life, and why we are here,” she replied.
“Why are we here?” he asked her curiously.
Mirren explained that we were here to glorify God – and that her God was Jesus Christ.
He responded by saying that he thought all the religions could get someone to Heaven. Providentially, that was the very topic of the booklet Mirren had just pulled out of her purse to give him – (Second Greatest Lie). His name is Christian and we praise the Lord for the opportunity we had to share with him about the salvation that can be had through Jesus.

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I noticed evidence of what must have been a fantastic ministry at one time … “Samaritan Free Hospital.” It would be great to see some more of these in existence today!

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My favorite part of touring London was definitely the Tower of London. Built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, the castle (which actually has many buildings and towers) contains so much interesting English history. Henry VIII beheaded his wives here, Isaac Newton lived here for a while, Sir Walter Raleigh was held there, and the list goes on and on. Of greatest interest to me was the Christian and Jewish persecution that took place. Six hundred Jewish men were imprisoned in the tower in the 13th century before the whole Jewish population was expelled from England in 1290. Many Christians were tortured and persecuted there.

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After this Yeoman (they aren’t actually tour guides – they are caretakers and historians) had taken us to the place where beheadings within the Tower were held (and shared more details about the process than I cared to hear!) I told him I was interested in studying more about those who had been persecuted for Christ there at the Tower.

I mentioned one persecuted prisoner in the Tower I had read about, of whom it was written, “he is exceedingly obstinate and a great friend either of God or of the devil, for they say they cannot extract a word from his lips, save that, amidst his torments, he speaks the word, ‘Jesus’.”

The Yeoman knew of the story and gave me more details, such as how this prisoner became close friends with his guard who would sneak him oranges.

Talking with the Yeoman was a reminder to me of how when one life is lived for Christ, people 500 years later are still impacted by the story. Even unbelieving historians researching the story could be drawn to Christ through stories such as this one.

20140806_054529_28572 I never knew that fig leaves were soft on the underside! No wonder Adam and Even chose to use them for clothes! =) (Okay, well, my dad thinks there were other reasons than that…)

20140806_105210_28682 At the Piccadilly Circus intersection

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Stephen had noticed an article of the “25 coffee shops to visit before you die,” and since one was in London, we decided to visit. =] It’s called Kaffeine’s – and it was unique and delicious. With us is our good friend Sinming who invited us to come to London and organized the conference at the Chinese church. She spent the day taking us around in London and was an amazing tour guide! Thank you, Sinming!

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Our evening concluded with a wonderful dinner with some friends who are actually from Texas, but living in London for a few years.

20140806_154503_28719 This is their neighborhood =)

New Neighbors

September 10th, 2014

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No one complained when we learned that a chocolate shop was moving in next door to our Bright Lights office / Noah’s Archive Christian Bookstore. Shelby, Hannah, Nickie and I went over this afternoon to give them some business!

On the other side of our office, we have the world’s best pizza shop (famous in our area) and behind us we have a super cute bakery and very popular coffee house. *Sigh* So blessed. =}

20140910_114515_29708 Today Shelby put up some letters that my dad recently ordered so we can have Bible verses on our big front windows. We’re grateful for all that Shelby and Hannah do when they come in to volunteer.

After an eventful week with family last week, we are now getting back into a routine. I will resume posting a few more reports from England soon.


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