Laptops to skills to trades in Ukraine

My supervisor in Germany recently sent me an e-mail with some pretty cool news about something that eDOT had a had in years ago that is still being used today and now is playing an even bigger role than originally thought. I want to share with you the awesome things God is doing through that project

Unlike here where most people my age and under grew up with a computer, in some areas few people even have access to a computer let alone have their own at their house. A few years back eDOT went to  Zaporozhye, Ukraine and set up what is known as a Mobile Outreach Center. The MOC, a group of laptops used for teaching basic computer classes, was installed at a community center that was an outreach of a church plant in Zaporozhye. Originally the MOC was used primarily for computer training so people were better prepared for more jobs and while they were getting the training they are building relationships with those working there and hearing about/seeing God’s love lived out. That in and of itself is awesome, but this MOC was also being used to help orphans who have “graduated” from the local orphanage.

Recently though there has been plans for a trade school to begin as another outreach to orphans and others needing job training. They were having difficulty getting the school accredited but when they found out that the school would be offering computer classes, the doors were opened. The computer course has been accredited now which makes it easier to get future courses accredited and then eventually the whole program.

What began as a way for people to be surrounded by God’s love while learning basic computer skills has morphed into something well beyond what was originally thought. God’s plan is certainly better than ours and I love when he reminds us of that!

My supervisor sums it up pretty well and so I will leave with a quote from the e-mail he sent.

“We’re finding that technology isn’t always what “it’s about” but many times its the door way for other opportunities to follow.”

How I can get from here to there, with your help

In a recent post I talked about my desire to be at 80% of my monthly support raised so I could go to the September training in North Carolina. My plan (and I stress the word my in this phrase because I am submitting myself to God’s plan) was to be at 80% before I go to Alaska July 19th. That gives me 22 days to reach my goal. I am not sure if this is the plan that God has for me, but I am doing all that I can to reach this goal all the while praying for God to work in my heart and others to achieve His plan.

In the next 22 days I need to have an additional 15% of monthly support raised ($750 more per month). That is just under 1% ($50) per day. What I wanted to do today is explain what it means to support a missionary monthly and give you an idea of how you could help me get to and stay in Germany through your support.

So what does it mean to support any missionary monthly? Well, it means you give a certain amount of money to a missionary on a monthly basis for as long as they are a missionary. At least, theoretically, that is how it works. That doesn’t mean that if you lose a job, have a kid or have some unexpected major expenses that you have to keep supporting the missionary when you can’t afford to feed your kids, but what it does mean is you will do your best to provide the agreed amount for as long as you feel called to give.

On my support me page I go into more detail on how exactly you can start supporting me monthly or with a special gift (both tax-deductible), so I don’t want to go into too much detail about that, but I would like to point out some ways that you could help me reach my goal of 80% and then 100% so I could be in Germany by the end of the year.

One way you could help is by giving a special monetary gift. This doesn’t help me get my monthly support level higher, but it does get me closer to completing my launch fund which will get me to Germany and cover the one-time expenses (like buying a kitchen, ask me more about that!).

Another way is to support me monthly. This doesn’t mean that you have to give a huge amount every month. Any amount helps. I have people giving between $5/month and $200/month with some churches doing more. A monthly pledge should be beyond what you give to your church for your tithe and it is whatever you feel called to give. No pledge is too small.

A way I like to think about monthly pledges is by how much it is per paycheck. For instance:

If you are single and give $50/month (1%) then each paycheck you would be giving $25. That’s a dinner at a nice place or two at an average priced place.

If you are a two-paycheck family (four/month) then $50/month would only be $12.50 per paycheck!

A third way is to ask friends/family (that I don’t know or haven’t talked to) if I can contact them personally or inviting them to a dessert/coffee night where I present to a small group. You could also get me connected with your pastor, church or bible study. You could also share this post on facebook/twitter/linkedin or any other social site to get more people to learn about what God has called me to do.

No matter what though, supporting any missionary should be something you pray about and feel led to partner with them in the ministry they have been called to do. God calls some to go and some to send. He has called me to go so He has called my team to send me! If you feel that you are being called to join my team please let me know by commenting below, e-mailing me at jacob.coon@gemission.org or calling me at 301-848-7353. If you want to learn more about my ministry before making a decision use that contact information and we can set up a time to sit down and talk.

There will be no condemnation

This past Sunday at Northpoint Church in Sylvania Pastor Dave Moore preached a sermon on one of Jesus’ last words, “finished.” Pastor Dave talked about how the cross should change our view of ourselves. We should view ourselves as adopted into the family of Christ, but not because of anything we have done but because Christ, “finished” the work for us. He used a great example about how people will refer to Jesus as a crutch and they typically view that as a negative thing, but in actuality we are sick and we need a crutch. Once we realize that we are sick and not healthy then we are willing to lean on Christ and what He has done for us. If you have a broken leg, you use a crutch. If you realize that there is nothing that we can do that will get us to Heaven then you rely on the only thing that can help you which is Jesus’ death on the cross.

At then end of the sermon Pastor Dave played the video below and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with you. I am often condemning myself for sins that I have committed. This video reminds me of what Romans 8:38-39 says which is talked about in the video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. (Oh and by the way if there is an ad, sorry, feel free to skip it as soon as possible as I did not choose the ad whatsoever)

The other side of my ministry

First off let me apologize for not posting every day like I promised. This past week has been pretty rough. I was so exhausted most days that as soon as i sat down I was asleep. Add that to the fact that I injured my leg and couldn’t run and my frustration level was pretty high.

Anyway, at the beginning of the month I asked for suggestions for blog topics and my friend Dustin gave me two. I addressed one of them earlier and today I will address the other one today.

Dustin said: I see that you and GEM both put a high emphasis on personal relationships when spreading the gospel. I love this. Why do you think this is important and biblical? Do you have any ideas yet about how you might carry it out in Germany?

Dustin is correct in saying that GEM and I are very purposeful about being relational with people and then having that lead to conversations about God. GEM’s mission statement addresses this very thing when they say “Disciple all peoples of Europe through rapidly reproducing churches.” You can’t disciple without a relationship. Jesus didn’t call His closest followers disciples for nothing.

GEM is huge on this and honestly that is why I will be in Germany creating online courses as opposed to doing them here, which technically I could do. GEM wants me to be in Germany so I can help spread the Gospel to my neighbors. There are a lot of people in Germany who do not truly know Jesus and I can help bring a Christian influence to my apartment complex, my town and my region of Germany.

Beyond the fact that GEM is all about relationships so is God. If you look in the Bible it shows many times that relationships are important, whether they be with God, with people you know or people you are yet to know.  I mean God is jealous of His relationship with us (Exodus 34:14), we are called fools if we do not have a rich relationship with God (Luke 12:21). Then of course there is the great commission (Matt 28:16-20) where we are told to go and make disciples. How can we make disciples without forming relationships? All of these relationships are supposed to be about getting each person involved to a right relationship with God.

So how am I planning on doing this? Well, I have some ideas on what I might do, but since I have not lived in Germany I am also keeping an open mind to possibilities that I have not thought of yet.

One of my ideas for my initially year in Germany while I am taking language courses all day, every day is to find a cafe/coffee shop where I can start conversations with the regular customers or employees and ask for their help with my German and i will help them with their English if need be. I also want to have a German Bible so I can ask them to translate some phrases as well.

Another idea is developing relationships through a garden plot. I have never really gardened before in my life, but some apartments come with them so if the apartment I get does I will try to find a neighbor to help me learn how to garden.

I also want to get involved in the community in general. I have heard that they have hobby groups that meet somewhat regularly. I love photography, running, hiking, traveling and would love to get with a group of locals and explore. I will probably have to know Germany pretty well by then so I might not join a group immediately.

Lastly, and this one might seem a bit obvious, I will join a local church and become involved with whatever ministries in which they are currently involved.

I can’t wait to use the skills God has given me in technology and education, but I am also ecstatic about getting to know Germans and living life side-by-side with them.

Smacked in the head by a 2×4 part 2

Yesterday I talked about how God has been planning my ministry plan far longer than I even knew and today I am going to talk about the more recent history.

Five years ago (2005) I was deathly sick. Over the course of four months I was given a 50% chance to live, had my gall bladder removed, two gallons of some random fluid removed from my abdomen, had two feet of my small intestine removed, was told that I was a week away from death had I not had the second surgery and then had pre-cancerous polyps removed from my large intestine. All of this at the age of 25. I fully believe that God used my health issues to get me to listen to His calling on my life. Gradually after I returned to normal health I felt like God was leading me to a leadership role in my Bible study.

In 2009 I had reached a milestone in my weight-loss, 150 lbs. To reward myself I was planning on buying a nice, new tv. My friend suggested that instead of buying something material, how about we organize a trip to someplace awesome. So, the two of us and three others planned a trip to, you guessed it Germany, where I fell in love with the culture and the people. I also visited the town that I will be working in without ever having heard of Kandern, Germany before.

Two months later my co-Bible study leader asked me if I had ever considered full-time ministry work (she meant more of in the church) and I quickly said no. She then asked me if I would look up short-term missions trips for our Bible study to consider. While searching I got bored and decided to look up long-term positions and stumbled upon Greater Europe Mission needing an instructional Designer in Germany. I was qualified, but I still wasn’t considering it. After prayer by myself and others I felt God leading me to do this and am certain, now more than ever, that this is His calling.

Something cool since all of that is that through a ministry partner or mine I met someone who is going to be working two floors above me in Kandern. We are both young, her more than me :-), and both exciting about learning more about Europe through travel.

If anyone looks at these things and says that I have not been called to serve Him in Germany then I would be surprised. Being the planner that I am I appreciate God’s plan going back over 20 years.

Thank you God, for smacking me in the head with a 2×4!

Smacked in the head by a 2×4 part 1

I thought I would take a couple posts and share with you all the different things that happened in my life that God planned way in advance to get me to see His plan for me. I have always said that God has to use a 2×4 upside my head to get me to recognize something and I really think He did that….slowly, but He still did it.

I’m going to do this chronologically, because that just makes sense in my head to do it that way. In this post I’ll cover everything up until the recent past (past 5 years-ish).

In elementary school i was in the gifted program where we studied a new language every year. One year we took Spanish and my mom had me speak a little to her friend who new Spanish pretty well. The friend said I was good and encouraged me to keep studying Spanish.

In junior high they offered an after-school German language class for two days a week in 7th grade and then three days a week in 8th grade. It would allow anyone who completed it to move straight to German 2 in high school. I was apparently a big enough dork that I decided to forget my mom’s friend’s advice and i stayed after school to learn German which at the time had no real applicable use for me.

Throughout high school I finish 4 years of German and the desire to visit grew within me. My brother never quite understood why, but nonetheless the desire was there.

In my first couple years of teaching I was looking at Master’s programs, but had no real plan. I was talking to one of my co-workers who was also my Pastor’s wife at the time. She knew that I like technology and was somewhat knowledgeable so she suggested I get my Master’s degree in educational technology. I had no idea that was even a possibility, but sure enough it was.

I ended up getting my degree online through the University of Florida and the program they used to design their courses is a program called Moodle which is the same program I will be using to create courses while in Germany.

These events are just the beginning. Within the last five years so much more happened in my life that God planned to use to get me to see where He wanted me. Come back tomorrow to find out what He did.

Father’s Day part 2 – Ray Sudheimer

Yesterday I talked about my dad and the lessons he taught me, but today I am going to talk about the other dad in my life. Five years ago my mom married a good man named Ray Sudheimer. I know that I am in the lucky minority, but God has blessed me with two great men to teach me lessons on how to be a good, godly man. Some guys don’t even get one good man in their life and I got two.

Today, on Father’s Day I wanted to talk about the second father in my life. Ray has been amazing, not only to me, but also to my mom and Ben. From day one Ray has treated Ben and I as sons, not step-sons. He has also loved my mom so deeply that it is inspiring. Here are couple lessons that Ray has taught me in the few years that he has been in my life.

1. Pray and study the Bible with your wife. I have seen Ray and my mom come closer together because of their habit of doing this and I cannot wait to be able to do this if I get married.

2. Work hard. Ray is probably one of the hardest workers I have ever met. No matter what job Ray is doing he works hard to accomplish his goal. I always see Ray doing something around the house or hear about how my mom came home to a clean house or something like that. Ray works hard and that is admirable to say the least.

I know that in the years to come Ray will teach me many more lessons on how to be a godly man and a godly husband and I am looking forward to learning more from him. I am blessed to be able to call him step-dad.