What You Can Do For Your Missionary on Giving Tuesday

Since 2012, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday is the kick off to the charitable season called Giving Tuesday. It was originally begun as a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy. As the world begins its mad dash to gear up for Christmas, Giving Tuesday encourages us to enter the holiday season with the right focus – a reminder and an opportunity to give where giving is needed most.

If you are reading this, you likely give to and support me or another missionary, either financially or prayerfully. And while your missionaries would definitely appreciate a financial contribution this Giving Tuesday, we wanted you to know that there are some other ways to give and show your support this Tuesday.

First off, let me speak to some non-financial ways of showing your support:

Send an email/letter to a missionary/ministry you know and let them know you are thinking of them, ask for prayer requests, etc.
Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is close at hand and trust me, your missionary misses people, so send them a note reminding them you are on their mind.

Volunteer to stuff and address envelopes for newsletters.
No one really enjoys stuffing envelopes, do they? I know I don’t, and you probably don’t either, but instead of paying someone to do this service for them, ask if you could take care of this for your missionary. December is a common time for missionaries to send a physical newsletter, so now would be an awesome time to offer help.

Introduce them to your friends/churches who might be interested in partnering in the ministry.
We love to talk about our ministry, ok maybe I just love to talk in general, but we want people to know what we are doing and we hope they will partner with us. The problem is, we don’t know everyone you know, so introduce us to your friends who you think might be interested in at least hearing more. No pressure included! I can’t emphasize how huge this can be. For me, personally, I have been overseas for 5 years, so I haven’t been able to make connections that you have. When missionaries are back for a visit, it may be great to set up a dessert and coffee night where you friends can all meet.

Go on a short-term team with your missionary partner (this won’t always be available, but if it is!)
Not every missionary has a short-term mission’s trip happening, but if they do, they could probably use help, so if you aren’t sure if they have one… ask! It will help your missionary and, I can guarantee, your life will not be the same after!

Offer places to stay or a car to borrow when they are visiting your area.
Most of us don’t have a house waiting for us when we come back to visit. If you have an extra room in your house or a car just sitting around, ask if we can use one while we are back.

Donate your airline miles, hotel points or rental car points.
Flights, hotels and car rentals are expensive. When your missionary is back visiting, travel is a guarantee, so offer them some help that doesn’t even technically cost you money.

Record a video of their family and friends and send it to them.
I just watched a video that was shared with me and while it made me sad that I missed a specific event, I was so happy to see my family!

In addition to those options, there are some financial options that would also show your support:

Send an extra gift to their ministry account.
This should be self-explanatory, but if it isn’t, well, sometimes we need extra money to cover taxes, unexpected expenses, etc.

Ask them for a wish list they have on Amazon, another site, or buy them a gift card for iTunes or Google Play (ask them which one).
Amazon is in a bunch of countries and you can easily purchase something for a lot of missionaries and they may already have some things in mind. A little gift to say thank you goes a long way. Whether it is a book, a subscription to an app/site or even more extravagant purchases like a tablet, whatever you give will be appreciated.

Send a care package of stuff your missionary misses (I’d ask what they miss before guessing.)
No matter where in the world your missionary is, they probably miss something from wherever you are. Shipping isn’t cheap, so ask them what you can send before you spend the money.


The bottom line is, if you feel so inclined, use Giving Tuesday as a reminder or excuse to show the missionary in your life that you care for them and appreciate the work they are doing. These are but a few of all the possible ways you could show your support. I hope this post can provide a jumping off point for you to go out there and give!

If you are a missionary and have been blessed in a different way, please share a comment. If you have blessed a missionary in a unique way, I’d love to hear those too!

*This blog was originally posted in 2017, but has been updated for 2018.*

A Snowball Fight with Strangers

Earlier this month a friend of mine visited for a few days before her mission’s training a couple of hours north of here. While here I was able to show her a chocolate factory in Switzerland, a castle in France and we hiked a hill in Germany. All in all it was full of good food and fun times! The best part, though, was a random snowball fight we were in with some strangers in Gruyère, Switzerland (ok, the best part was the all you can eat chocolate, but this was a close second).

Here we were in a cute, little, Switzerland town and I decided to throw a snowball in the general direction of some people standing below us. I thought I would get a negative reaction from them, but instead, they laughed and fired back. Now, to set the scene, we were about 50 feet above them and another 30 feet away and yet, they tried to fight back. The snowballs flew, from above, from below and then surprising us even more…from the left. Another random couple joined in. It was an all out battle, those with the advantage against those below. The snowballs kept flying with no one really connecting until my friend launched one, not knowing where his victim was (he was hiding behind a building) and it found its target. The girlfriend of the victim laughed hard and motioned that the snowball hit him in the head. As the fight wound down and the couple started to leave the guy took one last shot…at his girlfriend and for a second she believed we hit her and then she saw the truth, she had been betrayed by her former ally…and she laughed!

This moment was not something we could have captured in picture and if we had tried to we would have missed out on the fun. This moment was seized by all of us for what it was, silly fun. Sometimes it is nice to just have fun. Thanks to the strangers who made that possible and to my friends who didn’t think I was completely out of my mind. It was a good day.

Who have you learned the truth from?

About a month ago I wrote a blog titled “Who are you today? ” based on some bus bench graffiti in Kandern that I saw. Within a week or so I came across another “wh” question, this time in Andy Flannagan’s devotional book,  “God 360°.” Andy asked “Who have you learned the truth from?”
Take a second right now, pause and really think about this question. Who, in your life has taught you the truth? Was it your parents, a sibling, another family member? A teacher perhaps? A coach, a babysitter, a Sunday school teacher, or pastor? Who taught you truth? Who has helped you see clearer what really is going on in the world? Who helped open your eyes?
In the devotional Andy suggests to make a list of ten of those people, contact them and tell them how much you appreciate them for what they did. It may not be easy to find some of them, but I promise it will be worth it. I haven’t quite contacted all 10 of mine, but I plan on doing that this week.
I want to take this one step further though. My question is, who are you sharing the truth with? Make another list of ten people and if you can’t quite make it to ten, find some more people to invest in. If you share with over ten, awesome, find some more anyway!

Will you join me in answering these questions and will you share some stories about how your contacts or search for new people went? I would love to hear them!

Encouragement from an unexpected source

Every have one of those days where nothing seems to be going right and yet at the same time, nothing is going wrong. This happens to me on occasion when I get into a funk for no real reason. Today was one of those days. I just didn’t feel like doing anything and when I did do some things or got some good news, it didn’t do anything to change how I was feeling.

After running around trying to get some donations for the silent auction part of my fundraiser on February 2nd, I came home and had a package. When I read who it was from I knew it was a donation from my friend who makes her own purses. Inside the box was the donation, but on top was an index card where my friend wrote a Bible verse from Joshua. It read:

Have i not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Then my friend added:

Too true! God’s called you! Hope these help, even a little, with getting you there!

My friend and I met at a short Mission’s conference over a year ago. We have stayed in touch and have tried to help each other in this strange time of raising financial support. She is gathering ministry partners to go to Eastern Europe as a missionary and yet she spent her time and effort to make purses for me to use in my silent auction? Does that sound right to you?

I am amazed that my friend spent her time and effort to makes something for my silent auction, but I am even more thankful for her note inside the box. God has called me, He will provide and He will be with me wherever I go.

Thank you friend!

From Royal Pains to Royal Thanks

This blog was inspired by one of the most random things that has ever inspired me to write a blog, but I hope it doesn’t take away from the meaning. I was watching the TV show Royal Pains and in it one of the characters gets sick and didn’t want to burden his friends by telling them. Yet when he got to the hospital all of his friends were there vowing to help him through his illness.

If you have read my bio or you know me personally then you probably know about my health issues that happened just under 6 years ago. During the first four months of 2007 I was admitted to the hospital twice, had two surgeries, almost died at least twice and every every single test done to see the inner workings of my digestive system. For most of my tests I had to go to Georgetown University Hospital which meant a 45 minute drive (with normal traffic) and then waiting while the test was being done.

I have many friends who stepped up and became the hands and feet of god and really took Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40 to heart.

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

I was the “least of these” and my friends and family did many thing for me and I am so thankful for them. More thankful then I could ever truly express. I am thankful, not only for what they did for me, but what they did for God too. They put me and Him before themselves and gave me a good example for how I could live, keeping in mind that helping others is the same as helping God.

I can never do enough to truly pay back all of the people who helped me, but I did want to take the time to publicly thank my friends and family for what they did. I hope that my list is all-inclusive, but seeing as it was almost six years ago and I was on pain medication for part of that time I may miss someone and for that I apologize.

Thank you:

Christine – especially for staying with me in the hospital until my mom could get there
Lois and Kerensa – for my “field trips” to build back my strength
Mom, Ray and Ben – for making the trip to Maryland and helping me through recovery
Carolyn – for the many trips to the hospital for tests
Erin and Jessi – for being awesome roommates and put up with the colonoscopy preps
Adam, Don, Dan, Annie, Diana, Pastor Dave and others who visited me in the hospital. I probably won’t remember everyone here as I can’t remember much of my first and longer stay in the hospital
To all of the others who prayed for me.

To the nurse who gave me the pic line at Southern Maryland Hospital (the only bright spot during my stay there)
Dr. Benjamin Stanley – for helping to diagnose me and save my life
Dr. Patrick Jackson – for performing the small bowel resection and being an amazing doctor
The nurses on 7 Bles at Georgetown – I could not have asked for better nurses for my week there

If I missed you or someone you know please remind me. I will not think anything less of you, in fact I will only think more of you. I want to remember all of those people who helped me.

Whether any of these people I mentioned above realize their impact on me, I felt Jesus through them. I was at the scariest point in my life and they helped see me through it. I hope this simple thank you can inspire you and others to keep doing  for the “least of these.”

I also encourage any of you to share a story on how you have helped or been helped by people in your life. I always love to hear those stories.

I don’t have to be thankful anymore, Thanksgiving is over!

You probably noticed a trend on Facebook this month that probably happened last year too and will probably happen again until Facebook is no longer the cool kid anymore. Almost every day I saw a slew of posts giving thanks for different things. Each day people tried to give thanks for one thing in their life. Some of the posts were cute, some were sappy and some were a wee bit materialistic. Most people tried to thank every important person in their life and others seemed to be thankful for what they had (house, family, etc).

I’m not going to lie, I got kind of annoyed by this. Not because people shouldn’t be thankful for what they have, but more because this is really the only month that I have seen a lot of it. Why aren’t we thankful everyday of the year? Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want to see everyone posting something they are thankful for on facebook every day because that would just get annoying and commonplace, but do we spend a decent amount of time during the other 11 months of the year to truly think about how blessed we are.

My pastor last week reminded us that no matter how much money we make or don’t make, we are far better off than most people in the world. The fact that I can sit at a coffee shop on my somewhat new laptop drinking some fancy coffee should tell you that I am privileged. It’s not wrong to be privileged, but it does give us more responsibility to be conscious of what we have to be thankful and not ignore what has become expected in our culture.

Last week I read a tweet from one of my friends that said, “Interesting idea: instead of saying on Facebook you’re thankful for someone — go tell them yourself. Chances are, it’ll mean a lot more.” He couldn’t have said it better. Posting on facebook is a good way to publicly thank someone, but go up to them, give them a hug and thank them personally. A thank you note can mean a ridiculous amount too! Both will stay with them forever. I don’t think you will ever hear someone say I wished I had said more about them on facebook at a funeral. You might hear them say, I wished I said thank you in person though.

Beyond the impact it can have on people in person, God commands us to give thanks. I’ll put a few of them below, but lets all try to change our words and actions to show our appreciation to the people in our lives and to God for blessing us, this month and every month of the year.

Psalm 69:30
30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 100:4
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

1 Corinthians 1:4
4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:57
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:14-16
14…because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day

Ephesians 5:19-21
19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Philippians 1:3
3 I thank my God every time I remember you.

Tie a string on your finger

I have the most random memory in the world. Ok, maybe not the whole world, but definitely at least my family. There are times in the past where I have memorized all of the presidents names, their political party, what number they were and the years of their term(s). Then there are times I will have complete conversations with people that I completely forget I ever had. One time I was in Colorado and I went to a putt-putt/arcade place with my mom and then a few years later I wanted to go with my dad. I couldn’t remember the name of the place, but I did remember, and still do to this day, the street you took to get there. It wasn’t even the street it was on, just one on the way. Basically what I am saying is, my brain is messed up. It remembers what it wants to remember with total disregard to my wishes and desires.

Do you remember growing up and at least hearing the saying tie a string around your finger to remember, well I think my brain would like me to do that. If I ask someone to remember something for me, I won’t forget but if I tell myself to remember I will forget almost immediately. Thank goodness God works with my strengths and weaknesses, otherwise I might have to walk around with a string on each finger and that would look pretty ridiculous.

So here is where this post is going, I often forget that God has called me to Germany and that since He has called me, He will provide. I mean, I don’t totally forget, but I don’t always fully believe it sometimes when things aren’t going the way I had thought they would. What’s great is God has been sending me little reminders just like the strings to remind me I am doing His will. I wanted to share a couple of them that happened in the last week since I am more prone to remember if I share and so you too can get excited about God’s plan for me in Germany.

 I was at Plate 21 (I know surprise!) and I read my missionary friend’s status update about how a little girl came to their door to give them a contribution. I thought that it was so awesome, for her, if you know what I mean. I admit, I was a wee bit jealous of that and then literally about 5 minutes later the owner of Plate 21 gave me an envelope from a customer who heard I was doing mission’s work. She told me that the customer, who is in high school, wanted to help. I opened the envelope and in there was a letter and a contribution. It was almost like God was saying, “Shut-up, I called you too, so I will provide!” I don’t know if God would say shut-up, but I imagine He does.

Last week I was thinking about my Ministry Partner Development trip to the east coast coming up at the end of this week and I was trying to think of people I could contact to set up meetings. A name popped in my head that I hadn’t thought about before. They were already ministry partners, but I knew I could ask them to host a gathering of friends. So I e-mailed them and almost immediately got an e-mail back. The ministry partner told me that she was already looking for ways she could help and was looking into different venues where I could talk to people she knew even though she wasn’t going to be in town. That’s incredible!

These are just two of the stories. God is calling me to Germany and He will provide the partners for me. I just have to remember and keep doing what He has called me to do.

I’m here for you!

I received an e-mail the other week from a supporter who had some questions about my mission. They had some vary valid questions that I probable should have addressed at some point, but either failed to, or didn’t know that I should have addressed them. At first I got a little upset, because I felt like I had the answers, but didn’t know the questions. Then I realized, with some help, that it is my job to answer your questions to help you better understand God’s mission for me so that you will have the same passion I do to team up and help reach the people of Europe! I am grateful now to that supporter for raising good questions so I can help  others who might have the same questions.

I am going to add a question and answer page to this website. Here is the thing though, I don’t know what questions you have. I have a few to start the page off on Wednesday, but I will quickly run out of questions to answer if I don’t get any more.

Here is what I need from you:

  • Ask me questions about what I’m doing now, what I’ll be doing in Germany, etc.
    • Respond to this post
    • Send me an e-mail jacob.coon@gemission.org
    • Find me and ask me in person
  • Ask questions you had, have currently or you think others might have.

Here is what I promise you:

  • I will not be offended, no matter what the question is or how hard it might be for me to hear.
  • It will be completely anonymous (unless you post it here with your name obviously).
  • It will be completely truthful (unless I can’t discuss details about “creative access countries”).
  • It will be completely exhaustive – I will find the answer and do my best to answer the question fully.

We’re Strong for Toledo

from jupmode.comApparently way back in the day “We’re strong for Toledo” was a motto for the city. There was a song of the same title and it is pretty cheesetastic, but I love it! I am a big fan of Toledo. When I was growing up I never thought that I would leave Toledo. I always imagined staying here, raising a family and retiring here too. Obviously God’s plan was a little different since He had me move to Maryland and now to Germany, but I still love this city and would be perfectly content with living here on a permanent basis if that was what I was called to do.

The other week I had the pleasure of going to a local charity that is doing some amazing things for this city and that got me excited. I am so happy to see people excited about this city and helping those who live here and are in need. Not only that, but this charity was also helping people see God’s love through their work. That got me thinking about local charities who are helping this city in whatever way they can while also trying to spread God’s kingdom. I am grateful for these charities and I wanted to highlight a few. This is not an exhaustive list at all so feel free to comment with any organizations that you know who are helping this community and reaching people for Christ too!

Pregnancy Center – The Pregnancy Center has served thousands of Toledo area women since 1984, and we’re here to help you! Dealing with a pregnancy, miscarriage or abortion can be tough, but you don’t have to do  alone. At the Pregnancy Center, you can discuss your fears, options and questions with someone who cares about your needs. Your choices today will affect your tomorrows; you owe it to yourself to get the best information to protect your health and your future.

Journey of the Heart – Journey of the Heart’s mission is to provide a way for women whose hearts are wounded and broken to discover HOPE and Healing in their everyday lives. Journey of the Heart was created to meet the needs of struggling women in communities throughout the United States and around the world.

Young Life – I grew up going to Young Life and love this organization. For more than 70 years Young Life has been reaching out to junior high and high school kids around the world.  Annually, Young Life impacts over 1,000,000 teenagers making it the largest ministry to adolescents in the world. They are in over 25 schools in the Toledo area.

Church of the Cross – Church of the Cross is the church I grew up in. In edition to the weekly services they offer a weekly program for preschool-6th grade students called B.L.A.S.T and a young adult worship experience called Quest.

North Point Church – In edition to being a church with multiple campuses North Point also serves the community through projects like Food for Thought which provides weekly grocery assistance in Toledo. Most weeks they serve an average of 400 people which amounts to 115 families.

Thank you to these organizations for serving the needs of this community that I love!

Massages helping send me to Germany!

Throughout this month I have been keeping my eye open for things that I am truly grateful for. I didn’t want to come up with stuff that I should be grateful for and write about them. I wanted things that leave my heart happy. This topic wasn’t hard to come up with today. When I first heard about it, I literally could not stop smiling for a while. I got so excited, I could not stop praising God for His wonderfulness.

I am so excited and incredibly appreciative of Serenity Health and Wellness in Maumee, Ohio. I first contacted them about helping me with prizes for the Euchre tournament at my fundraiser. I had only been there twice, but my masseuse mentioned that Serenity likes to do donations for fundraisers. I figured they would do a 50% off massage, or $25 gift card towards their services, but they went well beyond that and that was just the start. For the winning team of the Euchre tournament they offered gift certificates for a free hour-long massage plus a 30 minute infrared sauna treatment. That was an $80 value for each person on the winning team. That alone was awesome. Then they went above and beyond that by offering to set up a referral program for me. For every new customer they get that mentions my name at their first session they will donate money to my launch fund (the fund that gets me to Germany including flight, shipping container, language school, etc.). They then handed me a stack of VIP coupons to hand out to people at my fundraiser that gives the new customers $10 off a massage (I still have some if anyone is interested). This means if you get a cheaper than normal massage, we both get a little relaxation!

I was completely floored by the generosity of Serenity Health and Wellness. I hope you all will join me in prayer to bless them for being a blessing to me.