In less than ten days, my dad and I will be flying to Singapore. I cannot believe it! I am so excited for this opportunity, and I would like to say (with much enthusiasm!) thank-you to all who have supported, prayed, and are currently praying for me.
Over the course of the trip, we will visit six different missionary couples in three countries and four cities. While there, my dad and I will be have the opportunity to see and participate in the work of the missionaries, engage in their everyday lives, explore their beautiful countries, and show love to the people they minister to. Please pray that my dad and I will be an encouragement and light to the many people we come in contact with.
On a personal level, I would ask that you pray for me in three specific areas. First, please pray that I will not be nervous for my flights, as we will be in the air for almost a whole day. The second area you can pray for is the food. My dad will eat anything, but I am relatively picky when it comes to food. Please pray that I will be open to trying the food offered, and that I might like it. The last and most important area for pray is that I will develop a greater burden for lost souls both in Southeast Asia, and right here in St. Charles.
What a joy it is to partner with other pastors and missionaries who associate with the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. I grew up in a BBFI church and I have always been associated with a BBFI church. (That doesn’t mean the BBFI is the best or only baptist group God is using, it simply means it is what I’m most familiar with.) As someone who is a product of BBFI schools and churches, I look for opportunities to give back to the movement.
One of the most enjoyable opportunities of service afforded to me has been that of serving the BBFI as a Field Representative. I have had the privilege of serving as a Field Representative for over twelve years, serving missionaries in Cuba, Haiti, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan. In the fall of 2013 I was asked to serve as a representative for the six missionaries who minister in Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore. A Field Representative is selected by the Mission Director (John Konnerup), after receiving recommendations from the missionaries. They serve a three year term.
A Field Representative can aid the mission office and mission directors in a number of ways. They assist the mission office at national fellowship meeting by attending and participating in the missions business meetings, serve as an advisory council to the mission director, interview and recommend missionary candidates for approval, and review and approve any field changes of current BBFI missionaries.
But I have always viewed the primary task of a Field Representative as serving the missionaries that minister on the foreign field. We serve the missionary by corresponding with them and remaining available to them, by sharing their prayer needs with other pastors at state and local meetings, by helping the newly approved missionaries as they try to raise their support, by raising funds for special projects, and by visiting them on their field of service at least once during the three year term to let them know they are appreciated and to encourage them in the work they are doing.
While some missionaries host a number of pastors and mission teams every year, other missionaries rarely receive the opportunity to show their work first hand to a supporting pastor or hear the informed words “thank you for all you are doing” while sitting in their own living room. I came to understand the impact of my physical presence first hand on a short trip to Ethiopia in 2010. A veteran missionary said to me with tears in his eyes that I was the first representative of the BBFI to ever come to his country for the express purpose of letting him know he was appreciated. While I may never know the full affect of my presence during that brief stay, I do know it opened up new opportunities for profitable dialogue and helped forge deeper connections with some missionaries who often feel isolated and forgotten. Just last month one of the missionaries who hosted me on that trip four years ago, emailed me to ask for some insight on a difficult situation he was facing in his church. Those trips have also helped me understand the in’s and out’s of everyday missionary life a little better. They have informed my prayer life and have helped me equip our own members (Tim and Janelle McCowns) for what they will experience when God calls them to serve on a foreign field.
It took a little bit of planning, but I’ve finally been able to confirm a trip to visit with the six missionaries families in Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore which I currently represent. Traveling to three different nations in one trip will be a new experience for me and adds a level of complexity but makes the most sense financially and impacts my own family and church responsibilities the least. I’m happy to announce that my travel companion is my oldest daughter Emma. She has raised her own fare and, thanks to some generous donations, all her costs have been covered to date. We are both looking forward to experiencing these cultures for the first time together. We are also looking forward to finding ways we can minister as a team (did you think Emma would sing with me?) .
Please pray for us as we prepare mentally, physically and spiritually for this ministry excursion. Pray that we will be an encouragement to the Crawford and Quinlan families in Indonesia, the Crocker and Moore families in Singapore, and the Salmon and Speight families in Thailand. If you would like to provide a special offering which we can use to encourage these families (edifying books and small gifts) note the donation on your offering envelope and we will see to it that these six families are blessed by your donation. Our departure is getting close (Dec. 29th), we are getting excited, many last minute details still need to be resolved. We covet your prayers.
After a long 24 hours of travel and 27 straight hours of being awake, we arrived safely home. God is good, what a joy it was to arrive at the airport and be surprised to find our children meeting us at the gate. It was a short and quick reminder of how wonderful a reunion it will be when genuine followers of Christ meet together in the presence of Jesus! Our bodies are still re-adjusting from the jet-lag, in our minds we know it’s day time but our bodies scream to us that it is not.
Many of you have already asked “how was your trip” to which we have given the expected response “it was good”. Both Jessica and I look forward to sharing with you all soon what the Lord is doing in that region of the world as well as how God is working in our lives. During our trip God blessed us with new friendships that we suspect will last a lifetime, it is amazing how your heart so easily and quickly knits together with other followers of Christ when you both desire to glorify Him and draw others to His saving power. The reality of the need and what it truly means to pray for our missionaries is so much more real than it so often is as we simply read a prayer letter or glance over a blurb in the church bulletin. The loneliness, the hardships, the threats, the difficulties, the fears, the victories, the spiritual warfare, the grace and protection of God, is all so much more evident as you walk in there shoes and fight along side with them. Please, please, please pray for your missionaries, the letters they write are not just words on a page, it is real life. I, on behalf of all our foreign missionaries plead with you to pray for God’s will in their lives and in their work for Him.
So what do we do now? Now, God calls us to be faithful, to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, teaching and preaching the Scriptures so that others can know Christ and become mature followers of Jehovah. I pray today that you are being a missionary, that you are sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with your words and with you life as you go to school, to work, to the gas station, to your son’s ball game, to the gym, to the grocery story, or maybe, just maybe halfway around the world. Christ was clear in the Scriptures when He wrote “whoever will come after me let him deny himself, pick up his cross and follow Me”….does this describe you, what cost is it that you are unwilling to pay in order to follow Christ and spread the message of the Gospel into all the world?
We are doing well. We spent Wednesday to the North with our missionaries. We had a great time eating some american cooking and fellowshipping together. We were able to see part of their ministry at a school for refugee children. It was a great help to spend time with them and gain from their wisdom (we both wished we would have had more time with them). We were able to purchase a much needed heater for one of our missionaries with some of the money that you have given for our trip.
After breakfast on Thursday we headed to the south. We have been privileged to spend time with the two different families doing work here. While here we have helped in their Friday children’s program, playing games and listening to Bible stories (or trying it was all in a different language). The church here in the south is made up of almost all refugees. They will expect about 150 to attend the services this Sunday of which all will be of of the local faith. I am excited about the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them. Pray that Gods word will be clear and not hindered in translation.
On Friday we spent time visiting some refugee families in their homes. One family we visited had 14 people with at least 8 kids in what we would consider unlivable conditions. The grandmother was taking care of four kids from another family because their parents had been killed in the war. Ministry here is much the same, but also much different. The goals are the same, hearts are the same, but circumstances and hardships of life are much different for the refugees.
Please continue to pray for the work of the Gospel here!
It was a joy today to spend time in the North. We laughed, ate, fellowshipped and prayed with our missionaries. God has opened up a great opportunity here…an openness to hear the Gospel and plant churches. Please pray for spiritual fruit from the work being done here, that many would find their “refuge” in the Lord Jesus (Psalms 46).
Yesterday we spent time seeing the awesome work of Gods creation as we walked ancient roads and touching and seeing things we have only read of in the Scripture.
God is good, God is Faithful, we are awed and humbled at all that God is doing here. Please pray for us as we will travel tomorrow to the the South.
Upon our first step here we felt a combination of fear, anxiousness, confusion, curiosity along with burden and excitement. That fear, anxiousness, curiosity have all lessened and the burden and excitement have grown as we have walked the streets in the heart of the city, visiting stores, eating at local restaurants and visiting local places of worship. I had the privilege today of visiting a class at the local university, going to the beach and seeing some tourist attractions. Yesterday, we were blessed to attend church services here, listen to the Word of God preached and spend time with the whole church for lunch….it was a great blessing.
During our touring of the city our hearts have been challenged by those trapped in spiritual darkness as well as those hurting as a result of war. On Saturday as we walked the streets downtown Jessica had the opportunity to purchase food for a struggling mom/child who had not eaten anything the whole day. The city itself is a paradox of rich and poor, brand new and old, war torn and rebuilt. I encourage you to praise God for the blessings in your life, primarily for your redemption but also for your family and physical provisions.
Pray for us, I feel a great weight and torn emotions. We miss home, we miss our children and we look forward to being with our church family again. It is a mental strain praying, talking and seeking the Lords will for our family long term.
God is good we praise Him and thank for the privilege of meeting genuine believers here.
We began the day a little jet-lagged and a little overwhelmed…okay maybe more than a little. Whenever you travel to an unfamiliar area you often discover that things are much different than what you expected. This has been both true and untrue for us. We can confirm that the driving truly is crazy, the best way to describe it is every man for themselves. The people have been genuinely friendly and helpful. While these things we have expected, others have caught us off guard. The evidence of war torn city, the public call to prayer and the over-all reality of the great need here for the preaching of the Gospel and local biblical churches.
We enjoyed spending time today with our host, exploring the city and eating at a local restaurant. Jessica was able to attend a fall like festival with seven sixth grade girls from six different countries! I had the privilege of spending time with my good friend, talking about the hardness and loneliness that comes with the work here but also the great joy and blessing of serving Christ in a place where many are not willing. My friend shared with me that during the 15 years of his ministry here, he has only had four visitors (including us). What a great blessing it has been to spend time encouraging them and getting to know them better.
Please pray for us as we will continue to familiarize ourselves with the area here tomorrow. Our hearts our challenged to spread the message of Jesus Christ into all the world, the only message that results in eternal life and most importantly the glory of God. As you read this blog this afternoon be challenged to share and live the Gospel of Christ where you are today!
We have arrived at our location safely. We are both excited and overwhelmed. We are anxiously anticipating all that the Lord has in store for us. We plan to spend the day today with our host touring the city and discussing their ministry here.
Please pray for us today, that we would be emboldened to do all that the Lord has for us.
In six short days Jessica and I will board a plane and 22 hours later reach our destination. Our hearts and minds are filled with excitement, anticipation, anxiousness and fear. God has already so graciously supplied every one of our needs. We praise God for His supply, seen first in a member of our church sacrificing his airline miles to purchase our tickets and then followed by an overwhelming demonstration of love by our church body as they gave so generously. Seeing what God has already done and in anticipation of what He will do has humbled our hearts and amazed in our minds. I have often thought of the Psalmist words “what is man, that you are mindful of him?”. How astonishing it is that our Creator God would choose to use sinful, unworthy people like you and me to do His will and share the hope of His Son in all the world!
As we make our final preparations these last few days the reality of our trip is setting in. We are going to a foreign land, a land very familiar with war and religious conflict, a land which our government warns traveling to. Our departure requires leaving our children and more than ever placing them in the hands of an all-powerful, perfectly faithful, completely loving God. Please pray that our faith in God would grow! Pray that we would take every opportunity to preach the Gospel, encourage other believers and bring glory to God in all of our words, thoughts and actions.
In our preparation for this trip we have often been thought of as crazy. Friends and family in their own way have asked, “why would you go there, have you not listened to the news”? The answer “why would we go” is love, the Bible says that “perfect love cast out fear”, that if love drives us and is preeminent in our hearts we will do what we would never normally do because we love God and we love those whom He sent His only Perfect Son to die for! I wonder…….does this same love drive you at school, at your workplace and in your home?
Thank-you for the overwhelming demonstration of love and support, please be faithful to pray for us, just as you have committed to do! God will be faithful, He always is, it is the prayer of your Pastor that as our faith grows and our burden for lost souls grows, in particular to reach Arab Muslims, that your faith in God and your burden for lost souls would also grow.
We do all this by God’s all-sufficient grace and for the the glory of the ONE who is all-worthy of praise and worship, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!
Vacations are an exciting time. A vacation to Disney with four kids between the ages of 2 and 11 is off the chart exciting. I’ve been so wrapped up in planning our trip to Disney my wife has started referring to me as Disney Dad as if I’m some super hero with mask and cape ready to leap Disney characters in a single bound. But last night after watching with my children the cleverly designed promotional DVD from Disney explaining all there is to do and see, I began to wonder about our family’s preparation for a trip to another kingdom.
There are spiritual analogies that can be drawn between our family’s trip to Disney in a few short weeks and the trip every Christian will take when our earthly existence comes to a close. Here are some questions to consider.
- Which characters are you most excited to see? Each of my kids wants to see a different Disney character. Their signature books are all prepared for Mickey and a host of princesses. There will be some really cool characters in heaven that I look forward to having my photo taken with. People like King David, Joshua, Jonah, Simon Peter, Stephen, and Timothy. But the old song says it well – “I long to see my Savior first of all.”
- What attraction will you go to first? We do first what we most desire. Can you guess where the crowd will be in heaven? Talk about a long wait time.
- What will you pack to take with you? I’m not taking my golf clubs to either place, somehow with everything else going on golf just doesn’t seem so important.
- Do others know you are going? Can they sense your excitement? It’s easy to find a way to tell others about my upcoming trip to Disney. My kids will tell complete strangers that they are going to Disney without a second thought. Why do we hesitate to bring up heaven?
- How much time do you spend researching the promotional material to make sure everything goes just right? The Bible provides explicit instructions on how to prepare for your trip and the glory of living for that kingdom. Read the reviews of guys like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul. They will provide you the assurance you long for.
- Have you made your dining reservations? If you think dining at Disney is cool, check out what the scriptures say about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
- What amenities will your accommodations come with? “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard …”
- When will you be leaving? Are you ready to go? I’ve been ready to go to Disney for four weeks. In fact, I find it hard to stay focused on the task at hand. The time of departure is drawing near, you have to get ready.
This planning stage of my vacation has challenged me to consider the trip I (and hopefully the rest of my family) will be one day taking in eternity. Let the preparations begin in earnest; let the excitement be known to all, my Savior will greet me at His throne. OH GLORIOUS DAY!