We are home! In the spiritual and family sense. Being "home" with First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge has been absolutely wonderful. Getting tons of hugs from the people that watched our family grow into a relationship with Christ and then launched us out to the mission field has been so filling to our souls. As we would say down south "I'm full like a tick!"
We've been busy! The family had the pleasure of sharing our hearts at three services. Ashley and I were able to assist with a day of mission teaching at Vacation Bible School where the youth raised funds for a special needs school we have a relationship with in Kenya. A humbling amount was raised! Ashley and the kids also spoke at the Judson Baptist Retreat Center "Boys Mission Camp" about what it's like to live on the mission field as children and now young adults.
International Friendship Partners: Did you know that more than One Million international students come to study in the USA each year and about 60% of those are from the 10/40 Window (where most of the world's unreached people live)? The vast majority of these students never enter the home of a Christian. Our home church has a monthly event for the strangers in our midst attending LSU. This is by far the easiest way to get involved in "missions in reverse" as these young students, who are the best and brightest engineers and scientists of their countries, are coming right to our doorstep and are often hungry for the friendship we Christians are called to provide. If you are in the Baton Rouge area and are interested in being involved in this ministry shoot me a message and I will connect you with the organizers.
On the CMM Front: Our research team is busy working to complete our "Mobilization Index" of the nearly 60 countries and city states of the world where more than one million evangelical believers live and worship. This Index will guide our strategic direction for places we engage as a ministry. Our new recruiting team is busy developing a strategy to aggressively build out our ministry locations with sold out laborers. Part of that process is a dynamic media campaign where our in house creative team is blowing my socks off with impactful content. If you or someone you love is excited about ministry - whether they want to be front line workers or even behind the scene skilled talent (IT, Finance, Graphics, Operations, etc) let me know and I will take the conversation from there.
Gratuitous Kid Stuff
Stay off the roads! Ella Jade and Duncan are pursuing their learner's permits. Almost nothing good can come of this! Duncan is thrilled and Ella Jade wants to know why anyone in thier right mind would want to drive...."Don't they have an app for that?"
Duncan and I had an awesome chance to "Dude Out" with some friends Tim and Rich (thanks guys!) and their sons kicking up a ton of mud and shooting lots of guns up in Mississippi. Lillian is preparing for college with a number of classes at LSU this summer (Gifts Assessment and ACT) with good buddy Hannah from Atlanta. Ashley has been working on our camp touching up paint as she can't sit still for long. Ella Jade has had the opportunity to teach some other kids drawing techniques (here she is preparing her course materials) - maybe art teacher as a career choice?
It's been such a sweet homecoming with family and friends
Our kids have had a great engagement with folks and been able to share their life on the mission field experiences with others
Opportunities to minister to and pray for friends and supporters
New relationships built and new friends met
God's provision of potential supporters and the growth that comes from both the successes and failures
Starting a three week journey to visit universities and to participate in CMM Team Leader Training and All Staff Retreat for about 200 ministry workers from around the world
In this we need discernment, wisdom and patience
Emotional and Physical Healing for so many we meet with that are struggling in some way currently
To reach our new partnership and fundraising goals for this ministry season (see below)
As many of you know we are making a big push to grow the team that invests in our family and ministry financially this year. If the Spirit is moving in your family to join ours monthly, quarterly or annually please send us a message so we can explore and pray about it together with you.
We appreciate your part in sending us to the frontline of mission mobilization. It is a joy to share our family updates with you. Let us know how we can, in turn, be praying for you! "I always thank God for you, remembering you in my prayers..." - Ashley, Lillian, Ella Jade, Duncan and MacGregor
Transforming the mission field into a mission force
We've hosted a couple of great weeks worth of trainings here in Nairobi AND I managed to squeeze in an unexpected quick work trip to Arkansas and California in between all of the fun.
It all started with 27 ministry workers from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi and China who gathered for a week to participate in our first ever Support Raising Solutions class held internationally. This is one of CMM's core ministries training many thousands of missionaries in the U.S. in how to build and maintain their partnership team. One of the biggest struggles for indigenous missionaries is remaining funded locally and not relying on the dollars of the Western Church. This first pilot class will allow us to work through contextualizing this course for use in East Africa and (soon to be) China as SRS begins to grow globally as one of our primary strategies for the future of Mobilization.
As you read this we are hosting our Field Staff Training program. We have 31 Americans, Chinese and Kenyans spending 15 days learning and practicing how to be "The Spark of Mobilization" together. Our new staff are studying theory and methodology during the day then going out in the afternoon/evening to put into practice. These missionaries will become change agents. Pray with us as they prepare to go out and join our different teams globally and find their most strategic role in God's Kingdom work.
Testimony from an Ethiopian Mobilizer: "I am Dagmawi Tadesse a mobilizer of Aksum campus. I join CMM training last Ethiopian summer the training changed my mind. In that training I took the Kairos training, on this course I got passion for unreached people group, as I took the course the following questions come to my mind, how to preach the gospel to this people group? Since they are many in number and culture, how to reach them? But Xplore and Go Mobilize studies provide me an answer for my questions so that, I decide to be full time mobilizer to mobilize at least for one year in one of the campuses to mobilize Christian student to Gods global purpose. So that I went to Askum university, this area is where one of unreached people group in Ethiopia is located, when I start to do mobilization students are encouraged to preach the gospel to this people group. We focused on this people group b/c in our campus 70% of student and workers are from this people group b/c of this the student have access to show love of Christ for those individuals who are from that people group. Students are studying Xplore, Window and Nvision in different small groups as result they start to pray for nation to be saved. Mobilization has changed my mind."
Some family and fun
Lillian's crew in Spain for her Spanish 3 cultural field study. Ashley doing some quality control coaching for Nisolo.
I'm surprised it did not make international headlines but Ella Jade turned a sweet 16. She reminded many times early and often :) It was a sweet celebration.
Oh yea, have I ever mentioned what a bad dad I am? Apparently while I was traveling Lillian and some of her 11th grade crew spent a week out in the bush building a "sand dam" (Google the concept) to help a community with water security as a result of the long standing drought in kenya. Like this was totally new news to me. I totally missed this and the oportunity to honor her heart and hard work. Some of you remember that we were first brought to the mission field with Living Water to help facilitate water projects. I was quite tearful and proud when I caught-up to my oldest daughter's life. Wake up call here - Tune in dad!
Kenya sightings....Top Row - This is our neighborhood, the drought that has raged here has been terribly hard on the general population. This forced herders to seek grass wherever they could far from the bush. We are very grateful for His deliverance from this drought with the recent beautiful rains.....however as the water pipes begin to fill up, this is what our household water looked like. Bottom Row - How else would you deliver a new living room set? Motorbikes are the only way to go. Kenya Department of Immigration....I spent 6 hours here trying to convince them of the fact that Ashley's Dependency Permit is wrong. It lists her as my daughter rather than my wife and hence we cannot properly register our Foreign Alien Status to stay legal in Kenya. Ashley should be honored as I failed to convince anyone of this reality....here's to staying young forever :)
Calling Baton Rouge! We hit the ground June 1st. We can't wait to see as many people as possible as we rest up, gear up and fund up for our 10th season of ministry!
Prayer & Praise
Please pray with us for a good number of dear friends that are facing very difficult health and emotional situations. It certainly feels like a season of attack on so many people we love. Pray with us also that our time in the USA is full of joyful reunions and fruitful conversations. 9 years is a long time to only have summers to renew relationships and we fear they get weaker each year we are away. At the same time we give praise for many who have experienced amazing and miraculous healing and received wonderful medical care. We also give praise for an incredible 9 years of full time field work with and for God. What a journey it has been.
Dear Ashley, We appreciate your part in sending us to the frontline of mission mobilization. It is a joy to share our family updates with you. Let us know how we can, in turn, be praying for you! "I always thank God for you, remembering you in my prayers..." - Ashley, Lillian, Ella Jade, Duncan and MacGregor
Transforming the mission field into a mission force