“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” -Psalm 107:1
I’ve had it on my heart to write a little family/ministry update…as we truly do have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. God has been good and it is comforting to know his faithful love does and will endure forever!
About a month ago, we became owners of our first home since being married! We absolutely love it, the area, and Lauren is still going crazy making it “our home.” We would love to have visitors if you are ever in or make a trip out to Colorado! Colorado is so beautiful; you can’t beat living right by the mountains! Every weekend I am home we have tried to get out hiking somewhere with the kids and the views are just breath-taking and refreshing to the soul. The beauty of God displayed in creation is awesome!
It has almost been two years now that we have joined with ServeNow and I continue to be amazed at how many lives are being impacted around the world through this little organization staff wise and relatively small but generous donor base. Last year alone we served over a quarter million people in some specific way among the poorest of the poor! I can truly identify now with the apostle John when he wrote at the end of his Gospel account: Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:25). We receive far more stories than we are able to communicate or know what to do with in just 3 ½ years, which also happens to be the exact time frame of Jesus’ ministry before being crucified and resurrected!
One highlight this year has been bringing in a partner organization as a division of ServeNow. In 2015 they published and distributed just under two million Bibles or biblical resource material! Right now we are working on sending a second round of 50,000 Bibles to Burma (for Buddhist monks who want to study from them!), a couple thousand Bibles into Israel for Russian speaking Jewish people, and we are working on a NT translation in Farsi to reach Iranian/Afghanistan immigrants in Europe! (We also have some of our Basic Series booklets in Arabic to reach refugee’s as well). The possibilities for the future and open doors for the sake of the Gospel are wide open and we are praying hard for God to open heaven wide to provide the resources needed to go through those doors!
But back on another family note; Lauren and Ava, our oldest daughter, are going to be able to go on a mission’s trip with me and 7 others to Ukraine this coming January!!! Lauren and Ava have raised all the finances they need for their trip through family and then Facebook friends who saw a video her and Ava did regarding the remaining funds they needed! We are so grateful and blown away by the generosity of God’s people! During this trip, we will be giving out Christmas gifts to orphans, refugee’s, disabled people and elderly lonely adults. We covet your prayers as we prepare for that trip, that we might truly be an expression of God’s love for those we are going to serve!
Lastly, I would just like to mention four specific unique opportunities this holiday season through ServeNow.
- In order to distribute 7,000 Christmas gifts in Ukraine this Christmas (their Christmas is celebrated January 7th) we will need to raise $10,000. This works out to only $1.50 per gift!!! Just recently as I was sharing at a church, a boy of about 10 years old came up to me afterwards and handed me a one dollar bill and .50 cents in spare change. That may not seem like much; but that is one person who may end up receiving their first and possibly only Christmas gift in their life! Maybe you can not only personally help us…but get creative and involve others! Maybe your church would like to take on X number of gifts. Maybe your home group, youth group, Sunday School class, business or community. Let’s make this a Christmas to remember for those who have nothing and nobody to share the love of Jesus with! If interested you can donate here: Ukraine Christmas Gifts.
- Another extremely time sensitive opportunity is the possibility of those of us going to Ukraine taking with us 20 stuffed animals for refugee children in Ukraine. But these are not just ordinary stuffed animals! Inside their stomach pouch is a solar powered audio device with the Bible in their language along with bible lessons and stories for kids!!! And it won’t just be the child who receives the animal that benefits from hearing God’s word; but the whole family and possibly even other families! Imagine how much joy you could bring a refugee child who has lost everything through a stuffed animal and God’s word! But in order for us to give them out during our trip we have to place an order before the end of November: Refugee Stuffed Animals.
- Just the other day I received an e-mail from one of our partner pastors. He pastors an Arabic speaking congregation in Sweden, as he is originally from Egypt. In fact, he is from the same area where the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians were from who were beheaded on a beach in Syria by ISIS. (He even has at his church former ISIS soldiers who have come to Christ and been water-baptized!). He was requesting that we help provide Christmas gifts (food, clothes and Christmas gifts) to children living in poverty in Egypt. These are kids as young as 12 who are unfortunately engaging even in prostitution or child labor. They and their families feel forgotten, forsaken and that no one cares about them. They would like to help 1,000 families this Christmas. It will cost $25,000 or $25.00 per family. If you would like to donate in this way click here but be sure to put in memo “Gifts for Egypt”
- Lastly, I was in India again this October with a friend from Colorado. One of things we were a part of was providing winter coverings for those most in need this winter. My prayer is that we can serve another 1,000 people in Northern India/Nepal with winter coverings by year end. Every $100 provides warmth this winter to ten people! Or, here is another way to think about it; the last day we were in India, we were in a slum area speaking in the local church. However, before the service my heart was drawn to the people in that community living in tents. There are so many little “communities” like that one where through just $500 you could serve a whole community of 50 people! The reality is ministry costs money, but it’s not about money. It’s about how even a little can make a real difference and open tremendous opportunities to share the Gospel!
In fact, just the other day our National Director in India sent me the following story and picture of an 8 year old boy: He has spent the last 6 years or more in the streets of Hyderabad, India until he was rescued and put into an AIDS hospice. His condition was critical from malnutrition but with treatment he is coming around. When we met him, he was scared and sad with pain all over his little body. But as he saw us presenting blankets to all the patients, talking to them and praying for them, he became friendly. In fact he went to the other rooms in the hospital proudly wearing his new jacket and hat given to him by ServeNow! Before we left, he learned to say “Thank You” as he heard it many times from other people telling us the same.
If you would like to help towards this goal, click here and please encourage your friends or family to get involved and give generously this holiday season too: Winter Coverings.
Thank you for taking the time to read this little update. We are blessed by your friendship, support, prayers, encouragement, trust and generosity. Making this move has really opened our eyes to the faithfulness of God through his people and possibilities for serving literally millions of people around the world through some incredible opportunities and open doors. It is my personal dream that in 30 years, we would be able to say that we were able to do something for the sake of the Gospel in every country of the world. Sounds crazy. Sounds big. But nothing is impossible or too big for God! His heart after all is for ALL the world is it not? So why shouldn’t ours be as well?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -Jesus, John 3:16