I’m a Missionary, You’re a Missionary, Everyone is a Missionary

A radio station in Toledo, YES FM, has pastors, missionaries and representatives from missions organizations on every morning to do a devotional of some sort. I have been honored to be on the station multiple times over the years. This post is a combination and summary of those five devotionals where the theme was “Being a Missionary in Your Everyday.”

My job title may officially be a missionary, but really all of us are missionaries. I want to talk to you about what it means to be a missionary in the everyday. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t being called to do short-term mission’s trips or even full-time mission’s work, but in the mean time, how can you live the missionary life in your every day?

After all, we are called to this in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So what does that mean for the person who isn’t called to full-time overseas or local mission’s work? It means the exact same for the full-time missionaries.

David Platt, president of the International Mission Board and author of Radical, recently exhorted new missionaries, but, in my opinion it can be applied to all Christians. He said:
1. May your only offense be obedience to God.
2. May your deepest joy be found & your greatest work done in daily prayer.
3. May your constant protection be the presence of God.
4. May your life cause nations to give glory to God.

Missionary in Your Home

Proverbs 22:6 – Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

It goes beyond parenting though. Whomever is in our home, whether they live with us or are guests, we need to be showing Christ to them.

How? Well:
– Model your relationship with Christ.
– Be real and honest, nothing works better than letting others see your struggles, but also your fight to overcome.
– Be a Safe place – allow people to share their struggles, judgment free. Let it be known you and your house is a place they can go when they need someone.

Missionary to Your Neighbors

Acts 9:36 – In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.

I love how it says Tabitha was always doing good. I mean think about it; always doing good. On her way to get water at the well, Tabitha was doing good. When she was cleaning house, she was doing good. When she was watching the kids, she was doing good. No matter what she was doing, or was on her way to do, she was doing good. Maybe the always is a bit of hyperbole, but if she was known as always doing good, she was probably caught doing good way more often than not. She saw needs, and she met them.

I don’t know where I heard it, but someone said your neighbor is anyone that you run across on a regular basis. This means the people who live near you, your postman, the cashiers at the stores you go to, and anyone else whom you give that slight head nod to because it’s a bit awkward if you don’t, they are your neighbors.

How do we practically become missionaries to our neighbors?

3 Simple things can kickstart us to serving our neighbors.
1. Ask questions and listen – I know this will sound crazy, but if you ask them the normal greeting of “How are you?” actually ask them how they are and then listen to their response. Help people feel loved by investing in them and getting to know the real them.
2. Observe – If you look around you can probably notice things where people need help. It could be the homeless person you see on your way to work, the neighbor whose lawn is never mowed because their lawnmower broke and they don’t have money to replace it, the single parent who works two jobs and is scrambling to help their child with their schoolwork. Look around and observe and then ask how you can help, don’t assume.
3. Acknowledge – Words of encouragement are huge for most people. Look for people who are doing something well and point it out to them, or thank them for a job well done.

Now let’s go a bit further into Tabitha’s story.

Acts 9:36‭-‬39 ESV
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.

It doesn’t say for sure, but seeing as these are widows wearing clothes Tabitha made, the thought is that that was part of her “always doing good.” Making clothes could have been her job or a hobby, but either way, she took what she was good at and served her neighbors with that very thing.

A lot of people think serving others has to be doing something you don’t enjoy, because it isn’t service otherwise. Some service needs to be uncomfortable, but not everything does. So, if you like to bake, bake a cake for a neighbor. If you enjoy gardening have extra vegetables in your garden, give them away. If you are skilled at a specific subject, offer to help students near you who are struggling. I don’t care what your passion is or where your skills lie, find someone and bless them with it. Whatever you are skilled at or enjoy doing, look and listen for the opportunities to serve those who need and are in your life.

That being said, I also want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and serve your neighbors in ways that stretch you. There are many organizations in the area that need people to come volunteer, be they homeless shelters, after-school programs, or what have you. If you can’t think of a place to volunteer, I’m sure someone at your church or your neighbors that you’ve been getting to know would have some suggestions.

The one thing I want to leave you with, if nothing else, is to get up, get out and serve. Remember we serve because of the Gospel and God’s love for us. We need to share that love to others.

Missionary at Your Church

1 Corinthians 12:27-30
Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body. 28 First, God chose some people to be apostles and prophets and teachers for the church. But he also chose some to work miracles or heal the sick or help others or be leaders or speak different kinds of languages. 29 Not everyone is an apostle. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is a teacher. Not everyone can work miracles. 30 Not everyone can heal the sick. Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone can tell what these languages mean.

1 Peter 4:1-10-11
10 Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. 11 If you have the gift of speaking, preach God’s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God

Let me tell you a story about one of the best examples of being a missionary to the church that I’ve been able to witness myself. My step-dad has been retired for a few years and almost as soon as he retired he dedicated more and more time to the church, serving on committees, helping with landscaping, setting up for events, etc. He gives more of himself to the church than I’ve seen anyone else do who wasn’t employed full-time by the church.

That’s not to say that we all need to retire and give a lot of our time to the church, but we were given specific skills to help the body of Christ grow closer to Him. I can’t speak for every church, but I’m sure if you contacted your church and asked if they needed help they could probably rattle off a good half dozen or so ways in which you can help. Most churches need nursery workers, Bible study leaders, landscaping, ushers, musicians, greeters, etc. Ask your church this week how you can serve the body of Christ.

Missionary to the World

How can you make international missions a part of your every day without living internationally?

  • Pray the Luke 10:2 prayer for more workers
  • Go on a short-term trip your church is organizing. Don’t know of one? Go to gemeuroteam.org and look at what my organization has coming up and sign up!
  • Send someone else to go on a missions trip. Partner with them financially or prayerfully to impact the world.
  • Go – gap year, internship, ten2 (10 weeks), or longer
  • Send – Most missionaries live on financial support from individuals and churches. Partner with them financially or prayerfully to impact the world.
  • I wrote a blog about how you can support missionaries in other ways and it will be posted next week, so come back and check it out!

Escaping the Room to learn English

One of the camps we partner with has a camp during Easter break and they want it to be less in the classroom and more active. In theory that shouldn’t be too difficult, the only problem being, we don’t have anything like that quite yet.

We needed to brainstorm, so I talked to a good friend of mine who also does English camps and he mentioned using escape rooms to help teach English. I had just done my first two escape rooms earlier that year and loved them, so I was immediately all in.

For those of you who aren’t aware of escape rooms, let me explain the concept a bit before talking about how we will be using them in camps. An escape room is a thematic room that has clues, puzzles and riddles spread throughout the room. Some of the puzzles are straight-forward word scrambles while others require much more brain power to solve. Normally the rooms take an hour to complete and the goal is to find a code that you use to “escape the room.”

The tricky part for our use is that we need a portable escape room or one that does not require a lot of set-up. This would allow us to bring the escape room wherever we have a camp. Most escape rooms are set up for months at a time and therefore can be much more involved. We, on the other hand, will need to come and go within a week and will probably only have a few hours to set up the room for a couple uses and then have to take it down again.

I’ve been tasked with designing the escape room. I’ve done research by going to multiple escape rooms with different numbers of people and discussing with them what worked, what didn’t and how we could adapt some of the good aspects to make it portable. I’m not an escape room expert, but with the help of my friends, I’ve been able to get some very good ideas down on paper.

The second tricky part is that we will want to use these escape rooms for a multitude of themes, so instead of designing one escape room, instead I am designing a template that a theme could be added onto. From that template we could easily adapt the room to fit whatever theme the camp requests…in theory.

The last tricky part is creating something that with only minor tweaks could work with students who know very little English all the way up to conversationally fluent students. Not sure how we will handle that quite yet, but we’ll figure it out.

To me, this is exciting. It is a challenge for sure, but to design something that the kids can learn through that doesn’t even feel like learning is worth the work!

And I would drive 2,205 miles…

First off, you are welcome for getting that song stuck in your head. If a song didn’t get stuck in your had, what if I say, “and I would walk 500 more?”

On a completely different note, yesterday (Sunday the 14th) I left Toledo to start my big trip of my HMA. As this is posted I am in Nashville visiting a guy who I had the privilege of leading in a small group during his time at Black Forest Academy in Germany. It was originally going to be two guys and they were going to be spending their Fall break hanging out together. For some reason they want their “old man” leader to come hang out with them. I have never been to Nashville, so that will be fun to explore a new city and get to hang out with him.

After Nashville I will be heading to Charleston, SC, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, Alexandria, VA and good old Waldorf, MD. At each of these locations I am going to be connecting with friends and ministry partners who live in the area.

If you live anywhere near those locations and want to connect please reach out to me.

I do have a couple times I know of in which I will be speaking at churches, so if you happen to be near California, MD on November 4th I’ll be at Bridgeway Church, or White Pains, MD on November 11th I’ll be at South Potomac Church. I hope you come because I’d love to see you!

It’s Been a While

Every couple of weeks or so I thought to myself, “You should write a blog sharing whats going on in your world right now.” I’d immediately file that in the good idea folder and then promptly forget about it for another couple of weeks when I’d think to myself…you get the picture. When I logged on today to start actually writing this blog I realized I hadn’t published one since November. Holy goodness a lot has changed since then, so this post is going to be a brief update and immediately after I write this I will be planning and working on the next few posts so I can schedule them to release on a somewhat regular basis. I hope to do at least two posts a month; one about my ministry and one on a random topic which could include whatever pops into my head that month.

Ok, so here is a brief run down of what’s been going on since November:

  • Helped host ICCM (International Conference on Computing and Missions) as my last major event with eDOT where I spoke multiple times and in several different capacities including leading sessions called: “No More Faking Fine,” “40 Days of Decrease,” and another one on different styles of prayer. Be on the lookout as those will probably be jumping off points for my next few blogs.
  • Switched to Euroteam TEFL from eDOT. After 5 years with eDOT in Germany I felt it was time to move on to a different group that was more suited to my skills including curricula development and working with kids in English camps.
  • Helped lead a short-term team at an English camp in Korropi, Greece as my first team officially with Euroteam.
  • Moved out of my apartment in Riedlingen Germany and moved to Perrysburg, OH for my mandatory year in the US.
  • Since I’ve been back in the US my time has been filled with ministry partners, friends and family. I have made many memories already and am looking forward to making more throughout the rest of my time here.

That is the briefest run through of what I’ve been up to as of late. My next post will follow this one closely as I dive a bit more into what is going on with Euroteam TEFL and my role on the team, especially while I am working from the US.

Ok, but what do you actually do?

In the last post on what instructional design is and the 30,000 foot view of what instructional designers do, this post will bring it all down to the ground level and look specifically at the design of one activity.

For our Narnia curriculum we wanted a fun activity that had the students using the vocabulary from that day’s theme, which was clothing. We wanted the activity to be engaging to the point where the students almost forgot that they were “reviewing” their vocabulary.

Our plan was to play a game, but we were struggling to come up with a game that was fun. One of the major tools in an instructional designer’s tool belt is taking something that already exists and changing it to fit their needs. Honestly, this is one of my favorite things to do as a designer.

My colleague suggested taking a game called 6 Nimmt Junior and adapting it to clothing. The basics of 6 Nimmt Junior is that there are four rows of “stables” and the players are trying to get all six animals into a row, allowing them to take the cards. Each card can have between one and three different animals. If an animal on the card does not appear in a row already the player has to put it in that row, but if all of the animals are already in every row then they get to choose in which row to put the card.

The game is pretty simple and lent itself very well to adaptation. If you are familiar with the first Chronicles of Narnia movie (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) then you know the children go through a wardrobe to get to Narnia. Well, what goes in a wardrobe? Clothes, that’s what. Essentially all that needed to happen was a change of theme of the game. Instead of putting animals into a stable, the students will now be putting clothing into a wardrobe. Simple.

But that is not all that it takes to make an activity for a TEFL curriculum so the next step was changing the rules to provide reasons for the students to use their new vocabulary (the items of clothing). Instead of just playing a card like in the original game, in our game the students have to say what they are putting into the wardrobe. So if the card has a shirt, pants and a hat on it, then the students would say “I am putting a shirt, pants and a hat into wardrobe #3.” By the end of the game they should be pretty used to all of the types of clothing in the game and using them in a simple sentence.

This adaptation was pretty simple and not all adaptations can be created as easily, but sometimes they are.

Wait…what do you do?

I’m an instructional designer, which means I essentially, wait for it…design instruction. Even though that statement seems pretty ridiculous, I have said that more often than I can count (not literally, I can count pretty high). Instead of trying to say the same thing over and over again, I thought I would share with you all what it means to design instruction, the process behind designing instruction and maybe a few other tidbits of information here and there in relation to my work, here in Germany.

I won’t do this all in one post though, so don’t worry. This post will mostly serve as a basic introduction to what it is that instructional designers do.

If you noticed the picture for this blog, it will serve as an analogy for how the process of instructional design begins. No matter who the client is, they typically come to you and present their need, or their felt-need in order to get the project started. Typically though, their idea is either too fleshed out by someone not trained in instructional design or it is a view from 3,000 feet. The first meeting is important for both sides of the project, because the client needs to understand what will work, and the designer needs to understand what the goals of the instruction are to be.

Herein lies the analogy, when the project first starts it is hidden in the clouds of possibility. In order to understand the whole project, the designer must know that they are looking at a forest while the client must recognize that the designer can best guide people to that base of the trees. If either part of this is not understood then the designer might lead to the wrong destination and the whole project could be a waste of time.

Hopefully that sheds a bit of light into what it is that I do. Next post I will be using a specific example of how instruction can be crafted from non-curriculum based sources before going into detail on how the design of a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) curriculum based on the Chronicles of Narnia movies has and is continuing to work.

The Paperless Gospel

I’m going to cheat a little today on my blog post because I think this story is awesome and it happened to one of the people I will be working with in Germany so I took this story from GEM’s story page. You should check out the stories they post there on a regular basis!

Here is the story:

One of our workers serving in Germany tells the story of an opportunity that he had to explain the Gospel to an Irishman in Amsterdam. It’s a great example of being ready and watchful for open doors!


I was sitting in a conference room in Amsterdam waiting for some specialized training on smartphone app development to begin when I heard a familiar accent. I’d been to Dublin several times and I recognized that familiar Irish lilt coming from a man nearby.  I quickly introduced myself to this other native English speaker amidst the Dutch, German, and French speakers surrounding us.

C2CDisobeyHis name was “Alan” [not his actual name]. Over the two days of the conference, we hung out together at breaks and lunches talking about all sorts of things. His fiancé and my wife. The iPhone 5 release. Irish tea. Guinness. What we do for a living, etc.

The subject came around to an app I am developing and I wanted to use the opportunity to steer the conversation toward spiritual things. The app is called “C2C Story” and it’s based on an evangelism tool that we use in our Discipleship Multiplication Training whereby we explain the story of God, from creation to the resurrection of Christ. The app provides a series of pictures that you can flip through on your device as you explain the story.

As I was describing the technical aspects of the app with Alan, it also gave me the opportunity to tell him the actual “Creation to Christ” story. Alan listened and had some questions about both the app and the story. He gave some solid suggestions for improving the app and told me that he would like to talk more about the story.

My hope and prayer for Alan is that his story might intersect with God’s story so that he will be forever transformed and then inspired to invite others into the redemptive story of God’s love.C2CMiracles

[Have a look at the app’s website by CLICKING HERE. It’s currently only available for Android devices, but the pictures can be used on Apple/iOS devices by using the web app version on the website or downloading the PDF images into iBook, Kindle, or other PDF applications.]